In captivity, red pandas live well in mixed-sex groups, but in the wild, they remain solitary.
Prolonged association of both parents with young and apparent tolerance of mixed-sex groups in captivity has led to speculation that the red panda may be gregarious in nature. Even when individuals are housed together, however, they maintain individual sleeping and resting loci and use a variety of visual displays in maintaining individual distances.
In the wild, adult red pandas are thought to be solitary outside the breeding season and rarely interact with one another, making aggression rare. There are no data on juvenile red panda dispersal patterns. Home-range size and population density are not known; however, other similar-sized carnivores have relatively small home ranges and high population densities.
Red panda territories are well posted by scent-marking. A series of small pores from which appear small amounts of clear, colorless, and odorless fluid occurs on the plantar surface of the feet. These pores may secrete substances that are used in depositing scent trails. Urine and secretions originating from the anogenital region may be other sources of scent. Adults of both sexes possess paired anal glands, each approximately 2 centimeters long and 1 centimeter in diameter, located bilaterally adjacent to the anal opening. Short ducts lead from the glands and empty into the distal portion of the rectum about 2 centimeters from the anal opening or anal sphincter. The content of the glands is a dark green-black, iridescent, oily fluid with a very pungent odor.
• Image | © Mathias Appel, Public Domain, (CC0 1.0)
• Sources | (Pocock, 1921; Roberts, 1980, 1981; Roberts & Gittleman, 1984; Roberts & Kessler, 1979)