Red Panda

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Anthropomorphic and quadruped forms of a Red Panda character
A plush toy Red Panda

The Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens Latin "fire colored cat") or Lesser Panda, is a mostly herbivorous cat-sized (60 cm long) mammal. Its classification has been a matter of debate for some time, as it has characteristics similar to giant pandas (which are bears), as well as to raccoons. It has been classified as part of the raccoon family (Procyonidae), and as a member of the bear family (Ursidae), but is presently classified in its own family (Ailuridae), in a superfamily (Musteloidea) that includes skunks, weasels, and raccoons. It is native to the Himalayas and southern China. Fossil evidence suggests that it once also existed in North America.

Red pandas are also called firefoxes, although they have no relation to true foxes. Mozilla Firefox uses a fox in its logo, but Mozilla sells red panda plushies that Mozilla calls "Firefox plushies".[1] Wah is another nickname sometimes used for a red panda.

Like the Giant Panda, it eats large amounts of bamboo. The Red Panda, however, has a digestive system more suited to a carnivorous diet and cannot digest cellulose, so that it must eat a great deal of bamboo to survive. Its diet also includes fruit, roots, acorns, and lichen, and Red Pandas are known to supplement their diet with young birds, eggs, small rodents, and insects on occasion. Captive Red Pandas readily eat meat. Red Pandas are excellent climbers and forage largely in trees. The Red Panda does little more than eat and sleep due to its low-calorie diet.

The Red Panda has semi-retractile claws and a "false thumb", really an extension of the wrist bone. Thick fur on the soles of the feet offers protection from cold and hides scent glands.

The species is endangered, largely because of habitat loss, though there is also some illegal hunting. Red Pandas are often killed for their coats to make fur hats and clothes. Also, because of the growing population in China, their habitats are knocked down in order to build houses. Approximately 10,000 pandas die per year, and approximately 7,000 of the 10,000 die from deforestation.

[edit] Red Panda and furry

While not as popular as the giant panda, there are still a number of red panda characters out there. It is often a choice for folks wanting to create a character or fursona from the Far East, and not use the much more common (giant) panda as its basis. Another factor in its popularity is the plushie-like cuteness of red pandas of all ages.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. The Mozilla Store - Firefox Plushie. Retrieved 9 May 2008.
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