The Red Panda

Which of the following animals is considered endangered?

Considering the red panda, carpenter ant, African clawed frog and silver carp, the answer is: the red panda.

Photo courtesy: WWF.org

Found in bamboo forests throughout the Himalayas, the red panda is about the size of a raccoon, and has a ruddy red coat and white markings. Its features make it look like a relative of a panda, bear, or raccoon, but the red panda is actually in a family of animals all by itself, known as the Ailuridae family.

While what usually comes to mind when thinking of the word "panda" is a big old black and white softie who lazes around eating bamboo, the red panda is quite a different character. As a member of the Ailuridae family, red pandas are more closely related to the family of animals containing raccoons, weasels and skunks. However, they do share giant pandas' diet of bamboo, as well as their anatomically evolved pseudo-thumb, which is a modified wrist bone used to grasp bamboo when feeding.

Red pandas are incredibly agile, tree-loving creatures. They spend their days in solitude, seeking food to eat and avoiding predators. Red pandas have a bone structure that uniquely allows flexibility for climbing and disembarking (pun intended) tree trunks or branches. Today, though their population is endangered, the red panda primarily inhabit the mountains of Nepal and northern Myanmar (Burma), as well as central China.

Did you know?

Red pandas have white faces with reddish-brown “tear” marks that extend from the eyes to the corner of the mouth. These tear marks likely evolved to help keep the sun out of their eyes, while the white of their face allows a mother to find her cub in near complete darkness. On behalf of all red pandas: thanks, Mother Nature!

Learn more about these adorable pandas below.


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