In this latest episode of On the Creature Trail with the Kratt Brothers. The brothers are on the creature trail for what could be the world’s cutest animal – the red panda! The red panda, or Ailurus fulgens, was initially discovered in 1821 – roughly 48 yrs before the discovery of the Giant panda, which scientists once believed to be a close relative. Today, however, red pandas are in their own unique family, Ailuridae.
While the two animals aren’t closely related, they do share similar adaptations. Both animals are bamboo specialists found in high altitude temperate forests of China and have a dexterous false thumb made from an extended wrist bone. The enlarged bone helps the pandas grasp and manipulate food or other objects.
The giant panda isn’t the only animal to share traits with the red panda. Similar to lizards and snakes, did you know red pandas can taste the air with their tongue? The mammal has enlarged papillae (rough bumps) with taste buds on them found underneath its tongue. When the animal sticks it out, it can collect scent chemicals floating by, which helps in predator detection or tracking down a favourite snack.
Red pandas love to eat bamboo leaves (close to 20,000 of them can be eaten daily!), but will also eat lichen, fruits, animal eggs, and small insects.
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