The Red Pandas in China, Where Red Pandas Live (2024)

The Red Pandas in China, Where Red Pandas Live (1)Red panda

Red pandas (or lesser pandas) are an anomaly among animals: they havelong, fluffy striped tailslike a raccoon, and faces and diets that resemble a giant panda's, but they clean themselves like a cat. However, they are not raccoons, bears, or cats — they are the only living species in a genus of their own (Ailuridae, misnamed using the ancient Greek for 'cat').

  • Chinese: 小熊猫 xiǎoxióngmāo /sshyaoww-sshyong-maow/ 'small bear-cat'
  • Appearance: raccoon-like, with reddish-brown fur
  • Size: around 50 cm (20 in)
  • Weight: around 5 kg (11 lb)
  • Life expectancy: 8–10 years
  • Distribution: Nepal, India, Bhutan, Myanmar, China

Recommended tours:

  • 1-Day Dujiangyan Panda Keeper Program Tour
  • 1-Day Chengdu Panda and Sichuan Cuisine Tour
  • 4-Day Wolong In-Depth Panda Tour

Red Pandas Characteristics

The Red Pandas in China, Where Red Pandas Live (2)

Appearance — Like a Reddish-Brown Raccoon

Red pandas look like a big domestic cat in shape. The main color of their fur is reddish-brown with white patches on the face. They have a long, thick reddish-brown tails with six yellow rings.

Size and Weight…

Adult red pandas grow up to 64 cm (25 in) long in the body. Their tails range widely in length: 28–59 cm (11–23 in). Males weigh up to 6.2 kg (13.7 lb), females only slightly less.


Red pandas arenocturnal animals, spending their days sleeping in trees and foraging for food at night. After waking up, they clean their reddish-brown fur just like a cat, licking their paws and rubbing parts of their body. After his morning bath, a male marks his territory.


Red pandas are found in the southern Himalayan foothills, fromIndia to China and as far south as Myanmar. In China, they live mainly in the southwestern provinces of Yunnan and Sichuan, as well as Tibet. The red panda has been found as far east as Shaanxi Province. Though not native to North America, fossil remains have even been found in Tennessee.


Red pandas thrive in moderate climates and like woodsy, mountainous locations where temperatures rarely go above 25°C (77°F). Red pandas prefer altitudes between 2,000 and 4,000 meters (7,000–13,000 feet).


Though not related to the giant panda, red pandas also eat a lot of bamboo (about 2/3 of their diet), because their digestive systems cannot absorb the cellulose. Red pandas also eat small mammals, grubs, fruits, eggs, tender grasses, flowers, and insects.

The Red Panda Population Is on the Decline

Red pandas are not as abundant as they used to be. The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) has red-listed them as being vulnerable to extinction as the number of red pandas in the wild is decreasing. The IUCN estimates there are only about10,000 red pandas left in the wild, but because red pandas are only active at night, it is difficult to get a firm count.

A major reason for the decreasing red panda population is loss of habitat due to people moving into their living areas. The ever-growing human population means a decrease in living space for the red pandas. Poaching and hunting also threaten red pandas in China and Myanmar.

Raccoon Dog, Raccoon, or Red Panda?

The Red Pandas in China, Where Red Pandas Live (3) Red pandas have black legs and eye patches like giant pandas.

When you see pictures of the red panda, you will find it looks like a raccoon or a raccoon dog. The simplest way to distinguish them is their black legs.

Raccoon dogs are light brown and have black rims to their eyes, but no ringed tail or black legs. They are of the dog family, most closely related to foxes.

Raccoons have black eye rims and ringed tails, and can even have reddish fur, but not as reddish-brown as red pandas'. They don't have black legs. They are of the same superfamily as the red panda, but a different family.

Red pandas have black legs and eye patches like giant pandas, but otherwise look quite different. Red pandas share a superfamily with the skunks, weasels, and raccoons; separate from the giant pandas, in the bear family.

Recommended tours:

  • 3-Day Giant Panda, Giant Buddha, and Ancient Town Tour
  • 5-Day Chengdu, Leshan and Mount. Emei Tour

Contact us for a private tour of Leshan and Mount Emei.

See Red Pandas in China

Most zoos in China have red pandas, making it easy for you to see them. When you visit giant pandas you can also see the lovely red pandas. Read more on The Best Places to See Giant Pandas in China.

If you are interested in the cute "pandas", red or giant, the best places are around Chengdu — "pandas' hometown". See our Chengdu tours, or we can help you tailor-make a tour to see them.

The Red Pandas in China, Where Red Pandas Live (2024)


The Red Pandas in China, Where Red Pandas Live? ›

The red panda once ranged over the Chinese provinces of Guizhou, Qinghai, Gansu, and Shanxi. However, it has since become extinct in these regions and is now found only in Yunnan, Sichuan, and Tibet. There are an estimated 14,000 square miles of suitable habitat left in China for red pandas.

Where do red pandas live where do red pandas live? ›

Red pandas live in high-altitude, temperate forests with bamboo understories in the Himalayas and other high mountains. They range from northern Myanmar (Burma) to the west Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces of China. They are also found in suitable habitat in Nepal, India and Tibet.

How many red pandas are left in 2024? ›

There are estimated to be around 2500 to 10,000 red pandas left in the wild, worldwide! This makes the red panda classified as an endangered species.

Where in China do pandas live? ›

Giant pandas live in a few mountain ranges in south central China, in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. They once lived in lowland areas, but farming, forest clearing and other development now restrict giant pandas to the mountains.

Is it hot where red pandas live? ›

Red pandas have an optimal temperature range of 63-77℉ (17-25℃). Once the temperature exceeds that threshold, it can affect red pandas. The typical habitat of red pandas tends to be cooler overall, but during summer months, their temperature limits are tested.

Where do red pandas live for kids? ›

And while giant pandas spend most of their time plodding around on the ground looking for food, red pandas spend about 90 percent of their time in the trees in the misty mountains of Nepal, Myanmar, and central China where they live. Farley, a young red panda, has been through a lot in his short life.

How many red pandas are dying each year? ›

Approximately 4,900 Red Panda individuals were lost between the years of 2001 and 2016, almost one third of the original population. Overall, on average around 300 individuals are lost annually, should the current population decline continue the species could be extinct by 2065 if not earlier.

How many red pandas are left in 1999? ›

No one knows exactly how many red pandas are left in their native habitats. In 1999, it was estimated that fewer than 2,500 still existed; however, most current estimates put their numbers closer to 10,000.

How many red pandas were left in 2000? ›

By 2000 the population was 226 (104.122) individuals (studbook data: Sparks data set updated to 31 December 2019). The breeding success also increased the percentage of zoo-born individuals. For example, in 1985 the percentage of zoo-born Red pandas was c.

How long are pandas pregnant? ›

Panda gestation length ranges from 90 to 180 days, with an average pregnancy lasting 135 days. This wide variation in gestation occurs because the fertilized egg usually floats freely in the mother's uterus before it implants and begins developing.

Do pandas have tails? ›

Do pandas have tails? Giant pandas do have tails but they are very short and stubby, without much range of movement. Many of the panda's body parts are similarly lacking in expressive abilities.

Are pandas true bears? ›

For many decades, the precise taxonomic classification of the giant panda was under debate because it shares characteristics with both bears and raccoons. However in 1985, molecular studies indicate the giant panda is a true bear, part of the family Ursidae.

Where do red pandas sleep? ›

In the wild, the red panda prefers a solitary and nocturnal lifestyle. It is mainly active during the twilight period and until the early hours of the morning. During daylight hours, they can be found resting or snoozing above the ground, lying dangled or curled up on tree branches depending on the weather.

What do red pandas smell like? ›

To alert other pandas to their presence, males mark territory with scent glands on their feet and at the base of their tail. The glands secrete a colorless liquid that is pungent to pandas, but odorless to humans.

How tall is a red panda? ›

The Red Panda has a body length in the range of 20”-25.2” (51-64 cm) and total weight of 8-17 lb (3.6-7.7 kg). Red Pandas have a shoulder height between 11”-13.4” (28-34 cm), body width of 5.5”-7.1” (14-18 cm), and tail length of 11”-19.7” (28-50 cm). The typical lifespan of the Red Panda is between 8-22 years.

Where can you see red pandas in the US? ›

Zoo Knoxville is proud to be the Red Panda Capital of the World. With more than 110 births, More red pandas have been born here than at any other zoo in the world.

How old is the oldest red panda? ›

He was reported to be 24 years old when he died in 2015. Any red panda in captivity that surpasses the age of 12 is considered remarkable, and so that's why it was so incredible that he lived to the age of 21. Taylor would have been 22 this June.

Do red pandas eat meat? ›

Red pandas belong to the order Carnivora, but this has more to do with their biological classification than their actual diet. In reality they rarely eat meat, instead using their powerful molars to grind through up to four pounds of bamboo a day. They also sometimes eat fruit, acorns, roots, eggs, rodents, and birds.

What eats a red panda? ›

Predators and Prey

The red pandas predators are snow leopards and martens. Humans also kill red pandas for their fur. The red pandas prey are small birds, eggs, acorns, fruit, and small animals. They also eat bamboo leaves, berries, roots, blossoms and the leaves of various plants. The red panda is a omnivore.


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Margart Wisoky

Last Updated:

Views: 5746

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (58 voted)

Reviews: 89% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Margart Wisoky

Birthday: 1993-05-13

Address: 2113 Abernathy Knoll, New Tamerafurt, CT 66893-2169

Phone: +25815234346805

Job: Central Developer

Hobby: Machining, Pottery, Rafting, Cosplaying, Jogging, Taekwondo, Scouting

Introduction: My name is Margart Wisoky, I am a gorgeous, shiny, successful, beautiful, adventurous, excited, pleasant person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.