Did You Know There Are Several Different Panda Species?
Out of all the creatures in the world, it is surprising that pandas have only divided into two species. When they Giant Panda was first introduced to a zoo in the United States, a new term for the craziness that ensued as a result gave birth to the term ‘pandemonium.’
Seeing as there are only two species and one subspecies, one would think the world at large would know more about these creatures. Let’s take a look at what similarities they share and what differences there are between them.
Red Panda Facts
1. Red Pandas Are Not Related to Giant Pandas
Yes, they have the same name ‘panda,’ but there seem to be few similarities past that. Red pandas belong to the unique family Ailuridae. The red panda was once classified as a raccoon because of the striking similarities that they share with the rodent species.
Later studies changed the Red Panda’s status to be scientifically classified as a bear. Scientists were able to track down that it was related to bears and split off from their common ancestor 40 million years ago.
2. Why the Name?
One might assume that the name comes from the fact that it was classified as a bear because it shares something in common with Giant Pandas. The name for the creature is believed to come from “Nigalya ponya,” the Nepalese words for “bamboo eater.”
3. The Real OG
National Museum of Natural History keeper Frederic Cuvier first described the red panda in a published work in 1848. The name “Ailurus fulgens” which he gave the Red Panda translated to “red shining cat.” It would take another half century before the Giant Panda would be discovered.
4. Its Most Distinct Feature
While it has “panda” in its name, the bushy tail that flows behind when it runs is a dead giveaway. If the face and short stature don’t make it obvious enough, this particular one should let people know how different they now are.
Where They Both Live
In the country of China, Red Pandas and Giant Pandas coexist because of how close their habitats are. In the Eastern Himalayas, Nepal, Tibet, India, Bhutan, and Myanmar, their habitats actually coincide.
For the Giant Panda, its six major habitats exist the mountains of Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces.
The Giant Panda Facts
1. Giant Panda’s Name
The first major difference between the Red Panda and the Giant Panda is their scientific names. In simplified Chinese, the characters read as “black and white cat-foot”, and in traditional Chinese the name reads as “big bear cat.”
2. They Eat Waaaay More
When a creature grows to a larger size than most, it’s only natural that the creature would need more calories per day. Red Pandas eat maybe 2 to 4 pounds of bamboo shoots and leaves per day, but understandable given their average size.
As male Giant Pandas can grow to as much as 350lbs, they can east as much as 20 to 45 lbs worth of bamboo shoots per day.
3. Their Most Notable Trait
Everyone know the most notable trait of the Giant Panda is the black and white fur. What many do not know is that the fur is actually white and ticked with black in certain spots, thus giving the illusion of more black fur than white.
The Qinling Panda Facts
1. It’s a Subspecies of Giant Panda
It’s interesting that the only other type of panda in existence would be the Qinling Panda. When it was first discovered in the 1960s, the scientific community did not recognize this creature as a subspecies. But that was changed in 2005.
2. Its Most Notable Trait
While it is a subspecies of the Giant Panda, it has its own special fur pattern of varying shades of gray. Its color scheme gives one the impression a Giant Panda played in volcanic ash and never got clean.
3. Where Does It Live?
Surprisingly, as many as 200 to 300 are rumored to be living in the wild. This particular species lives in the Qinling Mountains, its namesake.
4. Survival Rates May Be Impacted
Due to the polluted air in the country of China, the Qinling Panda has been exposed to toxicants in the bamboo they eat. These toxicants are believed to affect the dental health of the creature.
Currently, survival rates are about 5 to 20 years and may be negatively affected if pollution rates get worse.