This Wildlife Wednesday, learn about the endangered red panda.
This Wildlife Wednesday, we look at the red panda, or “firefox” as it’s commonly known. The endangered species is unknown to most people living outside of the animal’s natural habitats, but as the moniker for the popular web browser, Mozilla Firefox, the creature is actually quite prolific.
Habitat: the high-altitude forest habitat in the mountains of Nepal, northern Myanmar (Burma), and central China
Red panda trivia
- Red pandas are often referred to as the “lesser panda” even though they were discovered 50 years previous to their more well-known relative, the giant panda.
- Red pandas typically grow to the size of a house cat, although they also have large, furry tails that add an additional 18 inches (46 centimetres); they wrap these ringed tails around themselves in cold weather to keep warm. Their thick fur also covers their entire body—including the soles of their feet.
- Bamboo comprises most of the red panda’s diet, although, unlike giant pandas, they also eat foods such as fruit, acorns, roots, eggs, and insects. They also have an extended wrist that functions similar to a thumb, which aids them in their foraging.
- As many as 13 hours of the red panda’s day is spent searching for and eating bamboo, which they digest at a very slow rate. They can also slow their metabolic rate even further during the winter months when food is less abundant.
- Red pandas often communicate using body language such as head bobbing and tail arching and noises such as a threatening “huff-quack” and warning whistle.
Why they’re threatened and how to help
Recently, logging and other forms of degradation have disturbed the dense root systems and undergrowth in the red panda’s natural habitat. These degradations ruin the forest’s ability to retain moisture and slow run-off—contributing more to soil erosion.
The red panda’s habitat is not only essential to their own survival, but also to many Nepalese people who rely on these ecosystems for their survival. Langtang National Park in Nepal is a significant habitat for red pandas and is also a source of resources for the 30,000 people living near the park. Conserving the red panda’s prime habitat will actually benefit surrounding communities.
To learn more about the red panda and what you can be involved in its preservation, visit the Red Panda Network website. Also, mark your calendars for International Red Panda Day, happening September 15.