|Size:||Length: 20 to 42 inches (51 to 107 cm)|
|Weight:||6 to 13 pounds (2.7 to 6.2 kg)|
|Diet:||Mostly bamboo leaves, as well as berries, fruit, acorns, roots, mushrooms and sometimes mice, birds and eggs|
|Distribution:||Himalayas, northern Myanmar (Burma), Nepal and Bhutan, western Sichuan, Yunnan|
|Young:||1 to 4, once per year|
|Animal Predators:||Snow leopard, cubs can fall prey to the yellow-necked marten|
|Lifespan:||Maximum 8 to 10 years in the wild, up to 14 in captivity|
The red panda is the national animal of Sikkim and the mascot of
the International Tea Festival in Darjeeling.
· It is also known as lesser panda, wah and red bear cat.
Their fur-covered soles reduce slipping on wet branches as well as
heat loss in snow.
· The red panda’s Latin name means “fire-coloured cat” or “shining cat.”
· Red pandas can jump up to five feet from branch to branch.
· Red pandas can withstand colder temperatures than giant pandas.
Approximately the size of a large domestic cat, red pandas have a small, teddy bear-like face, with markings similar to that of a raccoon. In fact, they were originally placed in the same family as raccoons because of similarities in teeth, skull and their ringed tail. They are now placed in the Ursidae (bear) family because of DNA similarities, although it has been proposed that red pandas should be given their own family, Ailuridae.
Red pandas are found at high altitudes in the temperate forests of the Himalayas between 6,500 to 16,000 feet in elevation, in northern Myanmar (Burma) Bhutan and Nepal, as well as the mountains of western Sichuan and Yunnan provinces in China.
They live high in the mountains and are agile tree and rock climbers, but do most of their feeding on the ground at night. Bamboo leaves are their primary food source, but they also eat berries, fruit, acorns, roots, mushrooms and sometimes mice, birds and eggs. Red pandas hold their food in their forepaws and bring it to their mouths while sitting, standing or lying on their backs.
Mating season lasts from January to March, during which time females are in heat for 14 days. They give birth to one to four cubs sometime between May and June, in a tree cavity or rock crevice lined with grass, sticks and leaves. After birth, the mother cleans her cubs immediately. She remains with them for 60 to 90% of the time during their first few days. To be able to provide her cubs with milk, the mother has to eat three times her usual amount of bamboo. The cubs are blind at birth and their eyes open by the 18th day. By the 90th day, the cubs leave the nest for the first time, at night. They begin to eat solid food in the autumn and are weaned by winter. While they are fully grown by 12 months, they leave their mothers at approximately eight months, when the breeding season begins.
Red pandas are gentle animals. They live alone, in pairs or in small family groups. During the day, they sleep on a branch high up in a tree. When threatened, red pandas stands on their hind legs and give a sharp hiss or a sequence of snorts and swipe the air with their semi-retractile claws to scare away predators.
Red pandas are near extinction because of habitat loss as well as low production rates.
Red Panda Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US