Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens)
Size - Head and body, 20 to 26 in (50 to 65 cm); Tail, 12 to 20 in (30 to 50 cm)
Weight - 12 to 20 lbs (5.4 to 9 kg)
Lifespan - 8 years
Diet - herbivore; bamboo, fruits, acorns, roots, eggs
Habitat - high-altitude forests and mountains; Nepal, Myanmar, and central China
Population - less than 10,000 individuals
The red panda has been classified as a relative to the giant panda, as well as the raccoon. They are currently considered a member of their own unique family - the Ailuridae.
The red panda is a shy and solitaire animal, except while mating. Females give birth in the spring to usually one to four offspring. The young remain in the nest for 90 days and are cared for by their mothers, while the male takes little to no interest in them.
These animals spend most of their lives in trees and even sleep up in those trees. When they are foraging for food, they are most active at night and around the early hours of dusk and dawn. They have an extended wrist bone that acts as a thumb and greatly aids in their gripping. Their large bushy tails act as a wraparound blanket in the chilly mountains.
The red panda is an endangered species threatened by deforestation as their habitat shrinks and agriculture spreads. Almost 50% of the red panda population lives in the Eastern Himalayas. Loss of nesting trees in this area has caused a decline in their numbers. They are also often caught in traps that are meant for other animals. Poaching is increasingly an issue, as their distinctive pelts are desired in China and Myanmar.
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