RED PANDA/Behaviour, Distribution, Habitat, Size, Weight, IUCN stetus



DESCRIPTION: The Red Panda is one of the most striking creatures of the north–eastern forests. The chestnut colour of its body is offset by the white snout, inner ears and cheek patches. The ears are triangular and the cheek patches bear wiry, white moustachial hair. The tip of the nose is glossy black. The white cheek mask has chestnut coloured ‘teardrop stains,’ which in combination with its large, liquid brown eyes, lend it a peculiar appeal. Its tail is ringed with six light and dark chestnut and buff bands. The chest, ventral part of the body and the legs are black. The front legs are shorter than the hind legs. Red Pandas are unique among subtropical creatures in having white furred soles. The paws have strong, inwardly curved and short claws that are semi-retractile. This, a false thumb (like the Giant Panda’s), and the ability to rotate its ankle more than other arboreal carnivores, are anatomical features that assist its tree-climbing and headlong descent. The Red Panda has a robust skull and dentition, making it very different from other protocyanids. Females have eight mammae. At birth, the neonate is covered in thick buff fur and reddish hairs appear by day 15 just before the eyes open. Adult colouration is attained in approximately two months.

BEHAVIOUR: The Red Panda scent marks its territory with urine, droppings and powerful secretions from its anal glands, and glands on paws and foreskin. Other pandas detect these by taste and not smell. Communication is through a wide repertoire of squeaks, snorts and whistles. Red Pandas feed only on fresh bamboo leaves at the base of the stalk and do not eat the stalk itself as the Giant Panda of China does.

DISTRIBUTION: In the north–eastern Himalayan states of Sikkim, northern West Bengal and Arunachal Pradesh.

HABITAT: Dense moist temperate forests with thick bamboo and rhododendron undergrowth. In the Himalayas from 1,500–4,800 m, preferring 2,800–3,100 m, and in Meghalaya from 700–1,400 m. It seems to prefer forests with old and big tree growth with plenty of hollows, dead snags and proximity to water. South–and east–facing slopes favoured.

 Size: 50–73 cm

IUCN Status: Vulnerable


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