Species Comparison: Pandas of Asia
Two Very Different Bears with Similar Names
by Aubrianna Willard-Lee, age 12
Most of us have heard of or seen giant pandas, but most likely don’t know about Red Pandas.These two beautiful species have much in common and both are found in Asia.
Giant pandas are about five feet long, with a four inch tail. Like all bears, giant pandas have a very good sense of smell. They can smell humans from a long way off, which helps them protect themselves. To keep safe they even stay away from other pandas. Giant pandas are very difficult to track in the wild but they do sometimes leave signs such as chewed bamboo, or a nest in a hollow tree or cave.
The red panda also inhabits parts of Asia. This panda, however, is not a giant. Adult red pandas are about 26 inches long, although males can grow longer. Their tails add an additional 19 inches. Red pandas are very active at night. While they do move on the ground, they spend most of their time in the trees. If you are able to spot a red panda, it will probably be in the mountainous bamboo forests.
Giant pandas’ diet consists mainly of bamboo, but the red pandas’ diet is more varied. They eat grasses, fruits, roots, insects, eggs and birds.
While giant pandas resemble most other bears, red pandas look more like raccoons. Their curved, sharp claws help them climb trees and seize fruit. Red pandas are reddish-brown with rings on their tails, have a cat face, black legs and white ears.
Although giant and red pandas have similarities and differences. Both are very hard to spot. And unfortunately, both are endangered.
[Sources: Smithsonian; National Geographic: Animal, Tracks and Signs]