7 Issues You Did not Know About Purple Pandas


Mathias Appel Flickr

This is one factor you already knew: crimson pandas are cute. Whereas they don’t seem to be domesticated and subsequently are in all probability not appropriate as pets, some folks maintain them as pets anyway – particularly in Nepal and India – and add their cute hijinks to the web for the world to see.

Listed below are seven different info about crimson pandas (Ailurus fulgens) that you just may not already know.

1. Purple pandas aren’t pandas. Regardless of their identify, crimson pandas aren’t really intently associated to massive pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca), but it surely wasn’t till the final ten or fifteen years that scientists settled upon simply the place crimson pandas match on the evolutionary tree of life. It was clear that crimson pandas have been members of the taxonomic “infraorder” Arctoidea, inserting them in a gaggle with bears, pinnipeds (seals, sea lions, and walrus), raccoons, and mustelids (weasels, skunks, otters, and badgers). Analysis printed in 2000 within the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution decided that they weren’t most intently associated to bears or to raccoons as had been beforehand advised. As a substitute, crimson pandas type their very own phylogenetic household, alongside skunks, raccoons, and mustelids. From a genetic perspective, they’re extra just like the skunks and raccoons you may discover in your personal yard than the large pandas with whom they share habitats.

2. Herbivorous carnivoran. As a member of the Order Carnivora, the crimson panda is a carnivoran. However in contrast to most carnivorans, it is not really a carnivore. That’s, the crimson panda is a principally an herbivore. It is really a method during which the crimson panda is extra like the large panda than its genetic kinfolk: its food plan consists virtually solely of bamboo leaves, plus bamboo shoots when in season, and the occasional fruit, flower, and (not often) an odd egg or hen. The opposite carnivoran who can be primarily herbivorous? The binturong, the funny-looking bearcat that smells like popcorn.

3. Candy tooth. Talking of food plan, crimson pandas like faux sugar. In a 2009 research in The Journal of Heredity, researchers offered quite a lot of Carnivoran species with bowls of plain water, naturally sweetened water, or artificially sweetened water. They found that crimson pandas most popular three synthetic sugars: neotame, sucralose (Splenda), and aspartame (Nutrasweet or Equal). That makes them the one non-primate species recognized to have the ability to style aspartame, a capability beforehand thought distinctive to Outdated World monkeys, apes, and people.

4. Mixing in. Check out the reddish-orange tint of the crimson panda’s coat and also you may not instantly assume “good for camouflage,” however that is the place you would be mistaken. It seems that the crimson panda is fairly good at hiding from predators by disappearing into the branches of fir bushes that are normally coated with reddish-brown moss. Which is fairly useful as a result of demise by snow leopard looks as if a very unhealthy option to go.

5. A Tacky Drawback. Okay, stick with me on this one. Purple pandas, categorised as “weak” by the IUCN, are threatened by habitat loss and poaching, regardless of being protected by laws within the nations the place they’re discovered. Due to that habitat loss, wild populations of crimson pandas are more and more fragmented. One fragment that hosts a inhabitants of round forty crimson pandas is Nepal’s Langtang Nationwide Park, within the Himalayas. Even throughout the nationwide park, these forty pandas are fragmented into 4 teams. In Langtang, the crimson pandas have one other drawback, and it is cheese. You see, the park can be dwelling to 2 cheese factories that produce a mixed 14,000 kilograms of cheese annually to be bought in close by Kathmandu. To amass the 140,000 liters of milk essential to make the cheese, farmers maintain giant herds of chauri, a yak-cow hybrid, and people herds are permitted to graze throughout the park. The competitors over meals sources with the chauri mixed with different threats to their lives from the herders and from their dogs has led to the demise of many, many crimson pandas. “This drawback is perhaps solved,” write a pair of researchers within the journal Conservation Biology, “by lowering cheese manufacturing and proscribing the variety of chauri whereas commensurately rising the worth of cheese in order that farmers’ earnings from milk may stay the identical.”

6. Purple pandas tweet. They do not tweet in 140 characters such as you or I do, however they tweet nonetheless. Really, to be correct, the sound they make is named “twittering.” Have a pay attention (supply):


In line with researchers on the Nationwide Zoo, twittering appears to primarily used to sign reproductive intent. Which, now that I give it some thought, shouldn’t be all that totally different from some twitterers of our personal species both.

7. It Might Have Been Referred to as The Wah. Purple pandas have totally different names relying on the place you’re. In Nepal, they’re referred to as bhalu biralo. Sherpas name the critter ye niglva ponva or wah donka. However the Western world didn’t all the time name it a crimson panda. In 1821, the English naturalist Main Normal Thomas Hardwicke made a presentation on the creature on the Linnean Society in London. That’s sometimes thought to be the second the crimson panda grew to become recognized in Western science. In his presentation, titled “Description of a brand new Genus of the Class Mammalia, from the Himalaya Chain of Hills Between Nepaul and the Snowy Mountains,” he argued that the animal be referred to as a “wha,” explaining, “It’s regularly found by its loud cry or name, resembling the phrase ‘Wha’, usually repeating the identical: therefore is derived one of many native names by which it’s recognized. It is usually referred to as Chitwa.” Sadly, Hardwicke’s paper wasn’t printed till 1827, by which period the French zoologist Frédéric Cuvier had already printed an outline of the species together with a drawing. Naming rights, subsequently, went to Cuvier.


Flynn J.J., Nedbal M.A., Dragoo J.W. & Honeycutt R.L. Whence the crimson panda?, Molecular phylogenetics and evolution, PMID: 11083933

Pradhan S., Saha G.Ok. & Khan J.A. (2001). Ecology of the crimson panda Ailurus fulgens within the Singhalila Nationwide Park, Darjeeling, India, Organic Conservation, 98 (1) 11-18. DOI: 10.1016/S0006-3207(00)00079-3

Li X., Glaser D., Li W., Johnson W.E., O’Brien S.J., Beauchamp G.Ok. & Model J.G. (2009). Analyses of Candy Receptor Gene (Tas1r2) and Desire for Candy Stimuli in Species of Carnivora, Journal of Heredity, 100 (Complement 1) S90-S100. DOI: 10.1093/jhered/esp015

Roberts M.S. & Gittleman J.L. (1984). Ailurus fulgens, Mammalian Species, (222) 1. DOI: 10.2307/3503840

Roberts M.S. & Kessler D.S. (1979). Replica in Purple pandas, Ailurus fulgens (Carnivora: Ailuropodidae), Journal of Zoology, 188 (2) 235-249. DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.1979.tb03402.x

YONZON P.B. & HUNTER M.L. (1991). Cheese, Vacationers, and Purple Pandas within the Nepal Himalayas, Conservation Biology, 5 (2) 196-202. DOI: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.1991.tb00124.x


Header picture: Wikimedia Commons/Greg Hume. Different photographs: Wikimedia Commons/Jar0d; Wikimedia Commons/marshmallowbunnywabbit; Wikimedia Commons/Carlos Delgado; Wikimedia Commons/Rainer Halama.


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