The red panda lives exclusively in the temperate forests of the Himalayas and in the area between the hills of western Nepal and the Qinling mountain range in Shaanxi in China. Its habitat includes southern Tibet, Sikkim and Assam in India, Bhutan, the northern mountains of Burma, the Hengduan mountains of Sichuan, and the Gongshan mountains of Yunnan in southwestern China.
It can also live in southwestern Tibet and northern Arunachal Pradesh, but has not been documented. The place with the highest density of red pandas includes an area in the Himalayas that is thought to have been a refuge for a variety of endemic species in the Pleistocene.
The distribution area of the red panda can be considered discontinuous. An isolated group lives in the Meghalaya Plateau in northeastern India. In the 1970s, traces of red pandas were found in the Dhorpatan Game Reserve in Nepal.
Their presence was confirmed in the spring of 2007 when 4 specimens of red pandas were spotted at heights between 3220 and 3610 m. In 2008, their presence was also confirmed in Rara National Park, west of the Dhorpatan Game Reserve.
The red panda lives between 2200 and 4800 meters high, in areas with moderate temperatures between 10 and 35 ° C with little annual variation. It prefers mountainous areas with both coniferous and deciduous forests and undergrowth rich in bamboo.
In the Chinese provinces Guizhou, Gansu, Shaanxi and Qinghai, the red panda is now extinct. The Zoological Society of London, based on criteria of evolutionary uniqueness and small population, considers Ailurus fulgens one of the 100 mammal species at greatest risk of extinction.
It feeds mainly on bamboo, but also on fruit, leaves, roots and occasionally insects and small vertebrates. The gestation lasts about 130 days and the litters are made up of 1 to 4 puppies. It feeds at night while it sleeps during the day.
When it sleeps it stretches out on a branch and leaves its legs dangling, while it rolls its tail around its body and also on its head (it does not fall and does not see the light of day). The front legs have a sixth toe: a fleshy pad that is used to grab bamboos. Sometimes he uses a curious way to drink: he puts his paw in the water and then licks it.