Red pandas live in the Himalayan Mountains in bamboo forests, spanning across Nepal, India, Bhutan, and Myanma. They enjoy the moist cool air at elevations of 7000-15500 feet.
Like there giant panda relative the red panda survives mostly on a diet of bamboo. They must constantly eat in order to maintain their body weight, even eating up to 200,000 bamboo leaves a day.
They have an incredibly low metabolic rate, similar to that of a sloth. So this animal rests up in the trees for almost 15 hours a day. They spend almost all of their waking time eating. They are solitary creatures, only coming in contact with other red pandas during mating season. Due to habitat loss the red panda is one of the most endangered species on the planet, it is estimated only 2500 individuals remain.
The current phylogeny of the red panda is debated. Some scientist debate that it is more closely related to the raccoon, while others suggest it is more closely related to the bear. Others still suggest that it should be placed in a family all its own. The research done by the Chinese University of Science seeks to better understand the red pandas elusive phyologeny. They analyzed the: “interchromosomal rearrangements and amplic-cation of repetitive sequences have played a major role in differentiating the karyotypesof the mustelid species.” Their results showed that the red panda is closely related to the mustelids, or weasel family. This is certainly an interesting find and more genomic research is currently being done, fossil analysis must also be done to confirm the phylogeny thoroughly.