Watching how this small animal enjoys eating mandarin oranges tugs at your heartstrings, for you know that their kind is already on the list of endangered species.
Red pandas, also known as firefoxes, are native to China, Myanmar, India, Nepal, and Tibet, where they live in high-altitude forests with mild temperatures and understories of bamboo.
They are the original pandas, discovered by French zoologist Frédéric Cuvier in 1825, which was 48 years before the existence of the black-and-white panda was documented. The name panda may have been derived from the ancient Nepalese name for these adorable creatures with ruddy fur, nigalya ponya, meaning bamboo-footed.
Red pandas and black-and-white pandas both have pseudo-thumbs for holding bamboo as they munch on them. However, these two species are not relatives at all. The red panda is the only member of the family Ailuridae and is most closely related to raccoons, skunks, and weasels.
And yes, 95% of the red panda’s diet consists of bamboo, particularly leaf tips and tender shoots. But they also eat fruits, grasses, insects, and grubs.
How big do they grow? Well, an adult red panda may reach between 22 and 24.6 inches with a tail as long as 14.6 to 18.6 inches. How heavy? They can weigh between 3.6 and 7.7 kilograms.
Another amazing fact about red pandas is their skill in tree-climbing and tree-top navigation. Their claws are similar to cats’, sharp and semi-retractable. These claws enable them to grip slippery branches and mossy surfaces, while their long, bushy tails help in keeping their balance. What’s more, due to their flexible ankles, red pandas are among the few animals on the planet that can climb down headfirst.
“When I go through the jungle, every other animal, when they are in the trees, they crawl down with their hindlimbs first,” said Ang Puri Sherpa, country director for the Red Panda Network. “But when you see the pandas, they always crawl down headfirst.”
Today, there are extensive efforts to conserve the red pandas, and everyone hopes to see their species removed from the endangered list someday soon.
Watch this video of this adorable firefox who’s enjoying a fruity snack!Whizzco