Loss of habitat (from deforestation) has pushed the red panda (Ailurus fulgens) toward extinction: they are an endangered species.

Adult red pandas are the size of a house cat, and they have long, bushy, ringed tails, which are used for warmth in the cold mountains of Nepal, northern Myanmar and central China.

[photo credit: Animal photos].

They live in trees and, like their larger black and white namesakes, enjoy the flavor of bamboo, but also forage (at night) for fruit, nuts, roots, and eggs. Like the giant pandas, they have an extended wrist bone that facilitates grasping, almost like an opposable thumb.

Red pandas are solitary unless mating; and, for the most part, the males ignore the young. The females care for the juveniles for three months in a tree-nest.

The red panda has been difficult for biologists to classify: at one time they were thought to be a close relative of the giant panda; alternately — and partially because of their ringed tail and nocturnal foraging — they were considered to be a relative of the raccoon, but now they are categorized as a separate family, the Ailuridae.

The red panda has many nick-names, including: Bear-cat, Cat-bear, Fire-fox, and Nigalya Ponya (Nepalese for eater of bamboo).

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