Red Panda Adaptations: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Michelle Jones

Michelle has taught at the elementary level and has earned a master's degree.

Have you ever heard of a red panda? It looks very different from the giant panda and has some unique characteristics that help it survive in its environment. Read on to learn about the adaptations of this very cute animal.

A Different Looking Panda

When most people hear the word panda, they think of the black and white giant panda. But, there is an animal that has the body of a cat, the face of a raccoon, and shares part of its name with the giant panda. The red panda is a small animal that lives in the bamboo forests in the mountains of China. They are about the size of a cat, and they have reddish-colored fur. Let's take a closer look at the red panda's adaptations and how they help them survive.

Keeping Warm

Because red pandas usually live higher in the mountains, they have adapted to cooler temperatures. Wouldn't it be neat to always have your pillow and blanket with you so you could just fall asleep and stay warm wherever you are? Well, that's exactly what red pandas do! They wrap their long, fluffy tail around them like a blanket to keep warm, and use the end of it as a pillow when they sleep.

The red panda's furry body also keeps it warm. It actually has two layers of fur! They also look like they have slippers on because they have woolly fur on their feet. This animal sure likes to stay cozy!

This red panda is getting ready for a nap. Notice how its tail is wrapped around it.
Picture of a red panda with its tail wrapped around it

Excellent Climbers

Red pandas are much smaller than their predators, such as the snow leopard. To avoid being caught, they spend a lot of time in trees and have adapted to being very good climbers. Wouldn't it be weird to see someone climbing down a ladder head first? Well, it's not weird for a red panda. That's how they climb down trees - it's faster, they can keep an eye out for predators, and they can run away quickly from any predator that may be nearby.

Feet Features

To help them climb, red pandas have some adaptations on their feet. First, their ankles can turn outward so they get a good grip on the tree, sort of how we hold on to a cup. Strong, sharp claws also make it easier for red pandas to get a good grip on the tree they're climbing. Finally, red pandas have a large wrist bone that kind of acts like a thumb, which helps them grasp tree branches.

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