Red Panda

The Red Panda, Ailurus fulgens (“shining cat,” from a Latinized form of the Greek, ailouros, “cat,” and the participial form of the Latin fulgere, “to shine”) is a mostly herbivorous mammal, slightly larger than a domestic cat (55 cm long). The Red Panda has semi-retractile claws and, like the Giant Panda, has a “false thumb” which is really an extension of the wrist bone. Thick fur on the soles of the feet offers protection from cold and hides scent glands.

The Red Panda is native to the Himalayas in Nepal and southern China. The word panda is derived from Nepalese word “ponya” which means bamboo and plants eating animals in Nepal.

The red panda is specialized as a bamboo feeder with strong, curved and sharp semi-retractile claws standing inward for grasping of narrow tree branches, leaves and fruit. Like the giant panda, it has a “false thumb” that is an extension of the wrist bone. When descending a tree headfirst, the red panda rotates its ankle to control its descent, one of the few climbing species to do so.

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