The giant panda and the red panda are the only two distinct panda species found worldwide. Despite sharing a common name, there is no scientific connection between the two. They share a similar diet, inhabit a comparable geographic area, and both are experiencing population declines. Since the giant panda is a species of bear, it is sometimes referred to as a “panda bear.” They are mostly white with enormous black spots around their eyes, on their ears, and across various areas of their bodies. These animals can grow to be extremely large. These animals tend to have a more rusty color and are much smaller than red pandas, as their name suggests. They often have similar size and agility to domestic cats and like to dwell in rocky, mountainous environments. Rarely, if ever, do the two encounter one another in the wild.
Although both species are native to Central Asia, their ranges are somewhat dissimilar. According to researchers, the bears are restricted to a few remote bamboo woods in south-central China. The red variations also reside in this region of China, but they also have a range of habitats in Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal to the west. The word “panda,” which means “bamboo” in Nepalese, is thought to have originated there; in fact, both animals mostly consume bamboo. One method to explain the common name is as follows. The creatures are substantially distinct from one another in most other ways.
Giant Panda Facts
Ailuropoda melanoleuca is the scientific name for the giant panda, and molecular research has established that it is a real bear and a member of the Ursidae family. The fact that it is mostly a herbivore and that it is recognized as one of the friendliest bears may help to explain its lack of violence in general. The typical height of a giant panda is between five and six feet (152.5 and 183 cm), or nearly the same height as an average person. However, they sometimes weigh much more, with bears frequently exceeding 200 pounds. Bears play a significant role in Chinese culture, and pandas are thought to have been been the most prized specimen in the emperor’s exotic animal park.
The amount of bamboo that bears generally eat each day, which amounts to about 80 pounds (36.4 kg), does have an impact on their habitat. In other words, they require a place where there is a constant supply of food and where the trees are abundant and dense. When food is short, they have also been known to devour tiny rodents and other creatures. When food is plentiful, they will occasionally eat honey, eggs, fish, and fruits like oranges and bananas. Normally, the animals will only eat for about 16 hours every day. A thumb and four other fingers make up the panda’s paw, and the thumb’s sole function is to grasp bamboo while the animal is feeding. The thumbs can also be helpful in this quest, at least when it comes to grabbing and pulling, as the animals are also adept climbers and can frequently mount vast heights despite their weight and size.
Red Panda Differences
Ailurus fulgens is the scientific term for red pandas, which are not bears at all. Though many people believe they have a certain bear-like appearance, at least in the face, they actually resemble a hybrid between a cat and a fox and are around the size of both of those animals. At their heaviest, they weigh around 13 pounds and have an average height of about 24 inches (61 cm). They often have long, bushy tails that they utilize to keep warm while sleeping as well as for balance when climbing and swinging through the trees.
Although it is also frequently seen in Bhutan, Nepal, and some regions of northern India, the red panda is a native of China. Instead of the lowland bamboo groves that bears enjoy, these creatures are often found on the harsher slopes of the Himalayan Mountains, and they tend to prefer dense coniferous woods. The red panda, like the giant panda, mostly consumes bamboo, though they will also consume berries, mushrooms, acorns, and a variety of grasses.
Threats to Habitat and Survival
Both panda species’ populations are regarded as threatened, though to varying degrees. It is generally agreed that giant pandas are “endangered,” and that there are less than 1,600 of them left in the wild. In an effort to increase the populations of the species that freely wander China, numerous zoos and nature preserves have invested a great deal of time and money in trying to support the species’ growth. However, the issue is exceedingly complex. A significant component of the puzzle is habitat loss.
Wildlife organizations categorize red pandas as “vulnerable,” and it is believed that there are about 10,000 of them living in the wild today. The red panda is frequently captured and killed in equipment designed for different animals entirely, and human development and land usage are the primary dangers to their survival. They are occasionally pursued for their fur as well, which is frequently sought after for clothes and accessories.