Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The Red Panda is quite long: 79 to 120 cm (31 to 47 in), including the tail length of 30 to 60 cm (12 to 24 in). Males weigh 4.5 to 6.2 kg (10 to 14 lb); females 3 to 4.5 kg (7 to 10 lb). The Red Panda is specialized as a bamboo feeder, with long and soft reddish-brown fur on upper parts, blackish fur on lower parts, 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. Its roundish head has medium-sized upright ears, a black nose, and very dark eyes: almost pitch black. Its 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, short with thick fur on the soles of the paws hiding scent glands and serving as thermal insulation on snow-covered or ice surfaces. 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 Pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), it has a “false thumb” that is an extension of the wrist bone.