Red pandas are actually more closely related to the raccoon than the well-known, black and white giant panda. However, like its giant counterpart, it has an extended wrist bone which works very much like a thumb to help them to grip and to handle their food. Also commonly known as the “firefox”, the red panda has dense, reddish brown fur to help it hide in the trees and to protect it against the cold and rain.
Red pandas feed mainly on bamboo in the wild which is very low in nutritional and energy value. This means that they are only active for half the day, preferring to spend much of their time asleep in the trees.
Red pandas have a lifespan of 12 to 14 years in captivity and about 8 years in the wild. They are now classed as vulnerable due to the loss of habitat from deforestation and the expansion of agriculture in their native Asian forests. Predators of the red panda include snow leopards and the usual escape route would be up the nearest tree. However, if threatened, the panda will stand on its hind legs and stretch as high as possible to make itself look bigger and more fearsome.