Last Reviewed and Updated on July 24, 2022
When you think of a panda bear, you probably picture one with black and white fur. But another animal shares a part of this name, the red panda. While the two species aren’t closely related, they do have a few things in common. Read on and learn some of the most interesting facts about red pandas, one of the most adorable animals out there.
1. Red panda is the original panda
One of the most interesting facts about red pandas is that they are the original pandas. The red panda was discovered and formally described in 1825. Its original common name was just panda. The name was later changed to red panda to distinguish it from the giant panda, which was formally described in 1869.
2. There are two subspecies of red panda
The Himalayan red panda has a lighter-colored forehead and a straighter profile.
The Chinese red panda has a more curved forehead and a more sloping snout. The fur is also darker and with more contrast on the tail rings.
3. Their fur color appears to serve as a camouflage
One of the most prominent features of red pandas is their red or orange-brown colored fur (with black belly and legs). It appears the fur color serves a camouflage purpose as they live in habitats with red moss and red lichen-covered trees. They blend in nicely with their habitat.
4. They mostly eat bamboo
Just like the great panda, the red panda mostly eats bamboo. It also eats fruit, acorns, blossoms, eggs, birds, and small mammals, so its diet isn’t as restricted as that of a great panda.
5. They can’t digest bamboo all that well
They have a gastrointestinal tract of a carnivore, so it has issues digesting bamboo. This animal needs to ingest large quantities of bamboo in order to get enough nutrients.
6. They have pseudo thumbs
A pseudo thumb is a modified wrist bone that helps these animals with grasping when they climb or eat. It’s not an actual thumb-looking structure.
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7. Red pandas are good climbers
They can climb up and down the trees headfirst. These animals have semi-retractable claws, which enables them to climb trees easily.
8. Their tails help them maintain balance when they are on trees
They will use their tails to help balance themselves when they are traversing on branches. This is a very important function seeing as these animals spend most of their time in the trees.
9. Red pandas are solitary animals
They typically lead a solitary life, except during mating season.
10. They are only found in Asia however, fossils were discovered in North America
Fossils of red panda have been found in Washington state and Gray Fossil Site in northeastern Tennessee.