Despite sharing a name with the giant black-and-white panda, Ailurus fulgens, or more commonly known as the red panda, grows only to about the size of a common house cat 1. With red fur and a bushy tail, the red panda has obtained the nickname “firefox,” and is considered by many to be one of the more “adorable” species in the wild. Many are unaware that scientists first discovered Ailurus fulgens, fifty years earlier than when the more commonly known black-and-white panda was discovered 2. The classification of the red panda was somewhat muddled before scientists could determine its taxonomic relationship; previously the red panda had been classified in the Family Procynidae, which includes raccoons, and the Family Ursidae, consisting of bears 2. Scientific data and recent research has placed the red panda in its own family Ailuridae. Two sub-species of the red panda have been recognized; Ailurus fulgen, the more geographically dispersed of the two species, and Ailurus fulgens stylani, only found in China and Myanmar 2.
Range and Habitat:
Range and Habitat:
|Source : Eduplace|
Physical Description and Appearance
|Source: River Safari Image|
Red pandas are predominately solitary creatures, with little to no interaction between the males and females outside of the mating season 3. Red pandas are not truly carnivores, despite being classified in the Order Carnivora; these animals feast on mainly bamboo, but also eat acorns, fruit, roots,eggs and occasionally small rodents 6. The red panda has very few predators but its most dangerous predator is the snow leopard, however the red pandas' ability to quickly climb onto higher branches in trees due to their extended carpal bones allows them to escape predation. The adaptation of extended wrist bones are extremely important in the ability of these animals to grip their food and climb trees to retrieve berries and other fruit 6. Despite being solitary animals, red pandas are able to coexist with other species who share their environment, including their close relative, the giant panda. In a research paper investigating the ecological niche and coexistence of the red panda and the giant panda, scientists studied the two species distributed throughout the Liangshan Mountains and the reasons behind their ability to coexist and relationship between niches and habitat 7. Scientists found that while both prefer higher altitude forests, red pandas prefer sparser forests, further away from roads or villages, filled with dense bamboo and fallen logs. Researchers determined that this type of habitat would favor the small body size of the red panda opposed to the giant panda and there is no need for the two species to compete over food since culms is another primary source of food for giant pandas 7. Scientists were able to determine that red pandas have developed complex foraging strategies and do not face much competition for food resources 7. Red pandas typically only give birth to two young at time in the spring and develop a mother-child bond with their offspring until the next breeding season in winter 3.
|Source: Wikimedia Commons|
|Source: Daily Mail Online|
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