A beautiful red panda standing on a log

Red Panda Facts for Kids

Sharing is caring!

Fun Facts About Red Pandas

Red Pandas are adorable, but what do you know about these animals beyond being cute? While most people know about the famous giant panda (black and white) and where to find them, most know very little about the red panda. Where can they be found? How big are they? Are they ever kept as pets? What is the red panda habitat? Where can I see one in person? I will answer these questions and share other Fun Red Panda Facts for Kids (and adults).

With the release of the Disney Pixar Turning Red movie (see review here), many people have been interested in red pandas. I read online that someone’s child has begun wearing a bushy tail because of that movie. However, if we just get our information about red pandas from Turning Red, we will not really know much.

Learn about the red panda

Are there any documentaries to watch that will teach us more about the red panda?

Actually, there is a documentary entitled Cherub of the Mist, also called Return of the Firecat, that follows the life of two red pandas, These red pandas named Mini and Sweety were released into the Singalila National Park in India. This was the first time anyone filmed the red panda in their natural habitat and shows courtship, mating, nest building, and rearing the cubs.

Watch the red panda documentary on YouTube. It has foreign subtitles but is in English.

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Affiliate, I do earn from qualifying purchases.

Red Panda: World’s Cutest Animal can be accessed through Amazon.

This red panda documentary is free to watch on YouTube.

What is a Red Panda?

Genetically, red pandas are closer to a skunk or raccoon family than giant panda bears. In fact, they were once classified in the raccoon family due to similarities in their head and ringed tail.

The red panda is slightly larger than the size of a cat (domestic house cat) with a bear-like body and dense fur. Additionally, these are small mammals. Mammals have fur, are warm-blooded, nurse their young, and their babies are born live.

They have sharp claws that can be retracted like a cat.

Black belly and limbs

They have white markings on the side of the head and above their small eyes.

These cute little animals have a long tail. Their long fluffy tails are used for balance and to cover themselves in winter. They use their tales almost like we use a blanket.

They have a false thumb – an extended wrist bone. This developed over time to enable them to climb trees and eat bamboo.

The adult red panda typically weighs between 8 and 17 pounds and is 22 to 24.6 inches long.

Also known as the lesser panda.

They wash their faces with their front paws and hind paws.

They are very skillful and acrobatic animals that predominantly stay in trees. Red pandas do walk on their hind legs. While it looks adorable, this is actually a defense mechanism to appear larger than they are.

A Red Pandas standing upright

What do Red Pandas eat?

The red panda’s main diet consists of bamboo leaves and bamboo shoots. However, they will occasionally eat fruit, insects, eat small bird eggs, and small lizards. Bamboo leaves make up 90% of their diet.

While some people call them herbivores which means they eat plants and not meat, they are primarily vegetarian carnivores.

red panda face with open mouth in the brush

Another Interesting Fact:

Their Latin species name is Ailurus fulgens which means fire-colored or shining cat. The name panda comes from the Nepali word for ponya which means bamboo or plant-eating animal. Actually red pandas were named pandas before the black and white bear known as the giant pandas.

Where does the Red Panda Live?

Red pandas are found in Nepal through Northeastern India and in Buhtan and into China. Almost 50% of the red panda’s habitat is in the eastern Himalayas.

Fossils of the red panda have been found in North America which suggests that they lived there are one point.

They sleep in trees or other elevated spaces. They will stretch out on tree branches with their legs dangling when on hot days.

Red panda sleeping on a tree

How many red pandas are left?

The population of red pandas is estimated to be less than 10,000. They are listed on the World Wildlife Fund as an endangered species. They are listed on the IUCN red list of threatened species and their population is listed as decreasing.

Scientists estimate there are approximately 2500 red pandas in the wild.

red panda among bamboo

Female Red Pandas

The red pandas are solitary animals except during mating season.

The female pandas give birth twice a year. Their mating season is in the spring and summer. While they typically have between 1-4 babies, 2 babies is most common. The gestation period (how long a female is pregnant) is approximately 132 days – around 3 months. The female makes a nest in a birthing den out of twigs and leaves in a tree hollow, a rock crevice or under a stump.

The babies are born with thick fur that is gray with their eyes and ears shut. They do not open their eyes and ears for 2-3 weeks. To keep them safe, the mother will move them around with her mouth to other nests. Baby pandas nurse for 3-5 months and then begin eating solid food. The cubs will not leave the den for 18-20 months.

How long do Red Pandas live?

The life expectancy of a red panda in the wild is approximately 8-10 years.

Life expectancy of a red panda in captivity (in zoos) is 9-13 years old.

A beautiful red panda standing on a log

Facts about the red panda’s scent glands

Red pandas leave their scent to mark territories using their anal glands and urine. Additionally, they have scent glands that are located between their footpads. These glands on the soles of their feet leave a colorless and odorless (to humans) liquid.

Do red pandas have predators?

Snow leopards and martens are the main predators of red pandas. Furthermore, there are additional predators. However, man has caused the greatest harm to the red panda. In fact, they are on the endangered species list due to the loss of their main food source – the bamboo tree. Deforestation has caused habitat loss leading to decreased population.

What type of sounds do red pandas make?

They are usually quiet, but they do squeal and make twitter sounds.

Can I keep a red panda as a pet?

While red pandas are adorable, black market smuggling has contributed to the decline in the wild population. Purchasing a red panda is illegal. Furthermore, this species is protected by law in their natural habitat.

While it may appear that red pandas would make great pets, they are designed to live outdoors. They have long claws that help them climb trees and their claws. Also, they do have an odor.

Furthermore, their main diet is bamboo which would be difficult to obtain in the quantities needed.

Red Panda with bamboo

Where can I see red pandas?

There are numerous zoos throughout the United States with red panda exhibits.

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, DC, has two female red pandas on the Asia Trail.

Bronx Zoo, New York

Franklin Park Zoo, Boston, MA

Columbus Zoo in Columbus, Ohio

Akron Zoo, Akron, Ohio (currently off exhibit while a new habitat is under construction)

Pittsburgh Zoo, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia Zoo, Philadelphia, PA

The Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend, Indiana

Indianapolis Zoo, Indianapolis, Indiana

Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, Illinois

Zoo Knoxville, Knoxville, TN – more red pandas have been born at this zoo than any other zoo in the world.

John Ball Zoo, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Detroit Zoo, Detroit, Michigan – one of the largest red panda exhibits as far as space. However, only one red panda currently lives at the Detroit Zoo.

Zoo Atlanta, Atlanta, Georgia

Sunset Zoo, Manhattan, Kansas

Birmingham Zoo, Birmingham, Alabama

The Houston Zoo, Houston, Texas

Pueblo Zoo, Pueblo, Colorado

Oregon Zoo, Portland, Oregon

Zoo Montana, Billings, Montana

San Diego Zoo, San Diego, California

San Francisco Zoo and Gardens, San Francisco, California

Seneca Park Zoo, Rochester, NY

Utah’s Hogle Zoo

Finally, there are many other zoos and wildlife facilities that house red pandas throughout the United States. I have just listed some of them that appear in the top searches. Please check with each facility to see if the red panda exhibit is open as they do close for various reasons.

Red Pandas in other Media:

The movie Sing features red pandas. Q-Teez is a group of female red pandas that audition for Buster Moon.

Kung Fu Panda features a red panda. Master Shifu (voiced by Dustin Hoffman) is a red panda who trains the Furious Five.

Fun facts about red pandas

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.