You know, red pandas have always reminded me of ewoks; small and cute but fierce. But are they really going to attack you on sight?
Are red pandas dangerous or aggressive? Although they are the size of your cat, these tree-dwelling mammals will try to climb a rock or a tree to flee from the immediate danger at first or alternatively, stand their ground on their hind legs to make themselves appear larger and try to brutally claw you as much as they can with their super-sharp claws.
Are Red Pandas Bears Or Pandas At All?
Red pandas, natives to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China, have previously been placed in the raccoon and bear families by scientists, and in the panda family by common people. But now that we know better (after scientific studies, of course), they are placed within a separate family called Ailuridae that consists of the red panda (the sole living representative) and its extinct relatives.
So, are red pandas bears or pandas? Red pandas aren’t bears or racoons and aren’t closely related to giant pandas at all. They are part of their independent family for a long time now. A family that is closely related to the so called mustelids (skunks, raccoons, and otters/weasels/badgers).
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Why Are Red Pandas Called Pandas?
Although there’s no close connection to giant pandas, red pandas do carry the same name but have been called by many different names throughout the past (and present). Some of the names include the lesser panda, the red bear-cat, and the red cat-bear, true panda, and common panda.
The name panda itself could originate from panjā, poonya (eater of bamboo), or the word pónya (coming from the Nepali पञ्जा pajā (“claw”) or पौँजा paũjā (“paw”)).
Why Are Red Pandas Important?
Red pandas, unfortunately, face many challenges today like rise in human population where red pandas live, poverty plus not many chances for making ends meet all drive red pandas to the endangered zone because people just encroach on their territory and snatch them for trade or outright hunt them.
A 40% decrease in red panda populations has been reported in China over the last 50 years, and populations in western Himalayan areas are considered to be lower.
That is really sad for a species that was discovered 50 years before the giant pandas. But why are they important?
Well, red pandas are really unique and are living fossils. They’re an indicator species for an entire ecosystem within the Eastern Himalayan Forest, that was designated a biodiversity hotspot by Conservation International and WWF.
Healthy or low number of red pandas enlightens conservationists about the nature and quality of the overall environment.
Do Red Pandas Eat Bamboo?
Yes, red pandas eat mostly bamboo. In fact, 80-95% off
Pandas will also occasionally feed on birds, lizards, rodents and eggs with pregnant females having an increased appetite for meat.
Apart from bamboo and occasional meat, red pandas will forage on maple, beech, and mulberry tree flowers, leaves, bark and fruits. They also eat mushrooms, roots, acorns, lichens, and grass.
Red pandas have a hard time digesting cellulose, so they must consume a large volume of bamboo to survive; just like giant pandas. They don’t do much more than eat and sleep due to their low-calorie diets.
Can Red Pandas Be Pets?
Red pandas look cute and cuddly and they’re a highly desired pet. But they are of course not suitable for pet life. They have perfectly adapted for life in the trees where they spend most of their time and forage for
Red pandas are also protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and therefore, any panda acquired is part of an illegal pet trade chain.