Monday, January 27, 2014

Red panda

Red panda
The red panda  also called lesser panda and red cat-bear, is a small arboreal mammal native to the eastern Himalayas and southwestern China that has been classified as Vulnerable by  as its wild population is estimated at less than 10.000 mature individuals. The population continues to decline and is threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation poaching, and inbreeding depression, although red pandas are protected by national laws in their range countries.The red panda is slightly larger than a domestic cat. It has reddish brown fur, a long, shaggy tail, and a waddling gait due to its shorter front legs. It feeds mainly on bamboo but is omnivorous and also eats eggs, birds, insects, and small mammals. It is a solitary animal, mainly active from dusk to dawn, and is largely sedentary during the day.The red panda is the only living species of the genus Ailurus and the family Ailuridae. It has been previously placed in the raccoon and bear families but results of phylogenetic research indicate strong support for its taxonomic classification in its own family Ailuridae, which along with the weasel family is part of the superfamily Musteloidea. Two subspecies are recognized. It is not closely related to the giant panda.The head and body length of red pandas measures 50 to 64 cm  and their tail is 28 to 59 cm  . Males weigh 3.7 to 6.2 kg and females 3 to 6.0 kg . They have long, soft reddish-brown fur on the upperparts,blackish fur on the lower parts, and a light face with tear markings and robust cranial-dental features. The light face has white badges similar to those of a raccoon, but each individual can have distinctive markings. Their roundish head has medium-sized upright ears a black nose, and very dark eyes almost pitch black. Their long bushy tail with six alternating yellowish red transverse ochre rings provides balance and excellent camouflage against its habitat of moss and lichen  covered trees. The legs are black and short with thick fur on the soles of the paws. This fur serves as thermal insulation on snow-covered or ice surfaces and conceals scent glands which are also present on the anus.


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