Monday, January 19, 2009
Fur Patrol: The Red Panda
Red Pandas (Ailurus fulgens) used to be grouped with the Giant Panda in the Raccoon Family (Procyonidae), but due to DNA studies... neither is now considered to be in that family. The Red or Lesser Panda is now considered to be in it's own distinct family (Ailuridae), closely related to Racoons and Weasels (family Mustelidae). This may all seem like semantic quibbling, but how animals are categorized is supposed to suggest evolutionary relationships. Classifying them separately tells us that they broke off from the evolutionary line , which they share with these other animals, farther back and have been isolated from them longer than the other members that are still considered in that group.
Reds are found in the Himalayan areas of Eastern Asia, where they reside in montane forests.
Red Pandas are skillful climbers, and spend much of their time in trees.
There are 2 subspecies: Western Red Panda (A. f. fulgens) with the lighter colors (like this one) and Styan's Red Panda (A. f. styani) with bolder markings and larger size
Reds are crepuscular (active mostly at dawn and dusk), and take naps during the day.
Extensive grooming is regular part of the Red Panda's day.
The main part of a red's diet is plants, especially bamboo.
Although plant material is the main part of their diet, they will often eat eggs and small animals, as well.
They are considered a VULNERABLE species, due to habitat loss and fragmentation.
And thus, history had been made...
Baby Panda practices a little rope a dope with his fight coach.
Newborn Reds will stay with their parents (in the wild) until the next litter of pups are born the following summer.