Axolotl

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Axolotls can regenerate new limbs, tails, and even heart and brain cells, making them a research opportunity for long-term human health.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the axolotl’s biology is its power of regeneration. Not only can it reproduce a new limb or tail when these have been lost by accident or through attack by a predator, the axolotl can also regenerate brain and heart cells, characteristics that have made it a focus of a considerable amount of research with a long-term application for human health.

Axolotls are an important research animal and have been used in studies of the regulation of gene expression, embryology, neurobiology, and regeneration. They are one of the most widely used and studied laboratory animals.

Sources: (Bagnara, Armstrong, & Malacinski, 1989; Brunst, January 1955; Griffiths, Bride, et al., 2004; Majchrzak, 2004)
Image: HTO

 

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Axolotl

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Because known populations are few and far between, little is known about the ecology and natural history of axolotls.

Because known populations are few and far between, very little is known about the ecology and natural history of axolotls. There have been few ecological studies on wild populations.

Sources: (Bagnara, Armstrong, & Malacinski, 1989; Majchrzak, 2004)
Image: Alfred R. Conkling

 

Axolotl

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Axolotls are excellent lab specimens as they are easy to raise and inexpensive to feed, yet yield amazing research opportunities.

Axolotls are excellent lab specimens as they are easy to raise and inexpensive to feed. They are renowned for their amazing regenerative capabilities, have been used widely in developmental studies, and, because they are polypoid and possess large cells, they are often used in histological studies. They are one of the most widely used and studied laboratory animals.

Sources: (Bagnara, Armstrong, & Malacinski, 1989; Brunst, January 1955; Majchrzak, 2004)
Image: David Shane

 

Axolotl

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Because they are neotenic, adult axolotls retain the feathery external gills and finned tails from their juvenile stages.

Because they are neotenic, adult axolotls retain the feathery external gills and finned tails from their juvenile stages. These physical traits are suited to an aquatic lifestyle and are used for swimming.

Sources: (Brunst, January 1955; Griffiths, Bride, et al., 2004; Majchrzak, 2004)
Image: Josh More

 

Axolotl

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Axolotls are one of 5 paedomorphic, neotenic aquatic salamanders, meaning they do not undergo metamorphosis and retain larval characteristics while living permanently in water.

Axolotls are paedomorphic or neotenic aquatic salamanders, meaning they retain certain larval characteristics in the adult, reproductive state. They are one of only 5 species of the Ambystoma genus which exhibits varying degrees of neotony.

Unlike typical amphibians, the axolotl does not change from an aquatic to an air-breathing lifeform through the result of metamorphosis. They, instead, undergo a process called “paedogenesis” becoming sexually mature in the aquatic larval form and living permanently in the water for up to 10-15 years.

Sources: (Brunst, January 1955; Griffiths, Bride, et al., 2004; Majchrzak, 2004; Zambrano, et al., 2010)
Image: Fred Langridge

 

Axolotl

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Even though there is a supply of captive-bred axolotls, wild ones are still being caught and sold illegally for human consumption, medicinal uses, and pets.

Even though there is a supply of captive-bred axolotls, wild animals are still being captured and sold illegally in local markets. This trade is very difficult to police. Wild harvest of axolotls is small, but not necessarily, in relation to population size. There is a local illegal trade in wild-caught axolotls for human consumption, medicinal uses, and pets.

It is assumed that all international pet trade is now in captive-bred animals. The harvesting is targeted at animals that are less than one year old.

Sources: (Bagnara, Armstrong, & Malacinski, 1989; Brunst, January 1955; Griffiths, Bride, et al., 2004; Majchrzak, 2004; McKay, 2003; Zambrano, et al., 2010)
Image: Josh More

 

Axolotl

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The axolotl is critically endangered due to a small area of occupancy, fragmented distribution, and a continuing decline in habitat and number of mature individuals.

The axolotl is listed as “Critically Endangered” by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species because its area of occupancy is less than 10 kilometers², its distribution is severely fragmented, and there is a continuing decline in the extent and quality of its habitat and in the number of mature individuals. Consequently, the threats facing this species are complex and not easily reversible.

This species is protected under the category Pr (Special protection) by the Government of Mexico and is in process of being amended to a higher risk category. Mexican authorities are considering placing axolotl, (under the relevant Mexican legislation NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2001,) in a risk category that best fits the current risk status of the species. This would mean its transfer from “Species under special protection” (Pr) to “Endangered” (P), thereby conferring upon the species maximum protection under Mexican legislation. This document is intended to help the relevant organizations address all the above issues.

Although this species is currently on CITES Appendix II, it is currently under the process of “Periodic Review of species included in CITES Appendices”. A proposal to upgrade Ambystoma mexicanum from CITES Appendix II, (controlled international trade,) to Appendix I, (species threatened with extinction and international trade permitted only in exceptional circumstances,) is currently under review by the Mexican authorities and the Animals Committee of CITES.

Sources: (Griffiths, Bride, et al., 2004; Zambrano, et al., 2010)
Image: Josh More

 

Axolotl

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While axolotl are usually black in color, other color phases, including white, have been produced in the laboratory.

While wild axolotl are usually mottled brownish-green to dark black in color, other color phases and morphs have been produced in the laboratory. White, leucistic, and albino specimens are common in captivity.

Sources: (Brunst, January 1955; Griffiths, Bride, et al., 2004; Majchrzak, 2004)
Image: Josh More

 

Axolotl

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There is debate as to whether the axolotl should be classified as its own species or as a subspecies of the tiger salamander.

The closest relative of Ambystoma mexicanum is thought to be Ambystoma tigrinum, the tiger salamander. Indeed, the larvae of these species are visually very similar. Some even consider the axolotl to be a subspecies of the tiger salamander; viable offspring can be produced between the two species in the laboratory, though no hybrids have, as of yet, been discovered in the wild.

Sources: (Bagnara, Armstrong, & Malacinski, 1989; Majchrzak, 2004; Smith, 1969)
Image: Scazon

 

Axolotl

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The axolotl is endemic to an area in central Mexico less than 10km² on the southern edge of Mexico City.

The axolotl is native only to central Mexico, on the southern edge of Mexico City, in canals and wetlands in the general vicinity of Xochimilco, including outside the Xochimilco city limits and around the Chalco wetland. Its area of ccupancy is less than 10 kilometers² and includes an ancient system of water channels made up of deepwater lakes, natural and artificial canals, and abundant aquatic vegetation.

The axolotl was originally found in Lakes Xochimilco and Chalco, and presumably in the connecting lakes Texcoco and Zumpango, but it has disappeared from most of its range. The vast wetland upon which Mexico City was founded, and which once provided a rich and productive habitat for the axolotl and other endemic fauna, is now reduced to a handful of small, isolated patches surrounded by development. Of these, the area called ‘Lake Xochimilco’ is the largest, covering just over two square kilometers. It, too, is no longer a lake, having been fundamentally altered by the development of the sophisticated ‘chinampas’ agricultural system, which started in pre-Aztec times. This consists of raised fields of mud and vegetation coralled by rectangular plantings of the water-loving willow, Salix bonplandiana, which has reduced most of the lake to a series of canals of varying widths, approximately 182 kilometers in total length.

The axolotl are not homogeneously distributed through their range and congregate in particular places. Records from close to downtown Mexico City in the Chapultepec Lake could refer to either this species or Ambystoma velasci, and require confirmation.

Sources: (Bagnara, Armstrong, & Malacinski, 1989; Griffiths, Bride, et al., 2004; Majchrzak, 2004; Shaffer, 1989; Smith, 1969; Zambrano, et al., 2010)
Image: Arne Kuilman

 

Axolotl

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The nahuatl word “axolotl” describes an animal transformed from the Aztec god, Xolotl, brother to Quetzacoatl.

The axolotl is important in Aztec mythology. The word “axolotl” comes from the native Aztec language, or nahuatl, and roughly translates to: “water slave,” “water servant,” “water sprite,” “water player,” “water monstrosity,” “water twin,” or “water dog.” No one meaning can be considered correct to the exclusion of all others, any one of which is tenable and may have been an accepted connotation in living nahautl, in given contexts.

All of these names refer to the Aztec god, Xolotl, brother to Quetzacoatl. Xolotl was patron of the dead and ressurrected, (where he took the form of a dog,) and had exceptionally broad surveillance over games, twins, and monstrous and grotesque beings, including lifeforms with congenital deformities or other repulsive appearances. Aztec lore states that Xolotl, fearing his imminent sacrifice, threw himself into the water and transformed himself into an axolotl, among other things, to escape banishment from the earth, which would result in his death. As an axolotl, he was ultimately captured, killed, and fed to the sun and moon.

All of the forms Xolotl assumed were monstrous, ugly, or paired. The axolotl fits these themes with its supposed “ugly” features or through its twin relationship, in its aquatic form, to the terrestrial salamander, the two forms seemingly recognized as stages in the life cycle of a single species.

Sources: (Griffiths, Bride, et al., 2004; Majchrzak, 2004; Shaffer, 1989; Smith, 1969)
Image: VirtualWolf

 

Axolotl

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Axolotls can live as long as 10-15 years, but expected laboratory longevity is only 5-6 years.

Expected laboratory longevity of axolotls is 5-6 years, however, some have been known to live as long as 10-15 years. Most laboratory animals die shortly after metamorphosis, though.

Sources: (Brunst, January 1955; Majchrzak, 2004)
Image: John Clare

 

Axolotl

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It’s estimated that fewer than 100 axolotls remain in the wild, making the salamander one of Latin America’s most threatened amphibians.

The axolotl is possibly one of Latin America’s most threatened amphibians as the surviving wild population is very small. Although populations are difficult to assess, recent surveys covering almost all of its known distribution range have usually captured fewer than 100 individuals.

During 2002 and 2003, more than 1,800 net casts were made along Xochimilco canals covering 39,173m² and this resulted in a catch of only 42 specimens. In a study covering a span of six years, from 1998 to 2004, axolotl density had reduced from 0.006-org/ m2 to 0.001-org/ m2, although it is thought that this reduction could also be due to its own population dynamics. A recent scientific survey revealed no axolotls, although wild-caught animals are still found in the local market, which indicates that fishermen still know where to find them. There has not been a density study of the Chalco population, but evidence suggests that the population there is small and, furthermore, Chalco is a highly unstable system that runs the risk of disappearing in the near future.

Sources: (Griffiths, Bride, et al., 2004; Zambrano, et al., 2010)
Image: Jenna

 

Axolotl

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Axolotls generally breed between March and June and seem to “waltz” and “hula dance” during courtship.

Axolotls generally breed in the wild from March to June.

The courtship behavior of the axolotl follows the general Ambystoma pattern; it first involes each animal nudging the other’s cloacal region, eventually leading to a “waltz,” with both animals moving in a circle. Next, the male moves away while undulating the posterior part of his body and tail, (resembling a “hula dance,”) and the female follows. The male will deposit a spermatophore, (a cone-shaped jelly mass with a sperm cap,) by vigorously shaking his tail for about half a minute, and will then move forward one body length. The female then moves over the spermatophore, also shaking her tail, and picks up the spermatophore with her cloaca.

Axolotls communicate mainly via visual cues and chemical cues during mating. At other times of the year there is little to no intraspecific communication.

Sources: (Eisthen, 1989; Majchrzak, 2004)
Image: John Clare

 

Axolotl

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Desiccation, pollution, bacterial contamination, and disease, resulting from urbanization, pose serious threats to the axolotl.

The desiccation and pollution of the canal system and lakes in Xochimilco and Chalco, as a result of urbanization, is threatening the survival of this species. Increased tourist activity is poorly regulated and adds further pollution. The axolotls are also being affected by disease, probably spread by invasive species, and as a result of poor water quality.

Although the water regime has changed in the last 10 years, and it is reported that pollution levels are decreasing, factors such as very high levels of bacterial contamination could still pose a serious threat.

Sources: (Griffiths, Bride, et al., 2004; Zambrano, et al., 2010)
Image: Sandra Strait

 

Axolotl

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A species action plan focusing on conservation education, habitat restoration, and bioremediation has been drafted to help conservation actions for the axolotl.

Building on its existing profile among the people of Lake Xochimilco, over the past three years a partnership of British and Mexican organizations has been developing a conservation program for the axolotl. The project was the brainchild of the late Dr. Virginia Graue of the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana at Xochimilco (UAM-X), who contacted the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) in 1999 for assistance with development of the project.

As it was clear at that time that addressing the many threats that the axolotl faced would be impossible without the co-operation of local stakeholders, the project initially focused on embracing local people within the conservation planning process by developing the axolotl as a flagship species for nature tourism and conservation education within the region. Using UAM-X’s existing field station, CIBAC, on the shores of the lake as a base, and with funding from The Declining Amphibian Population Task Force (DAPTF) and the British Government’s Darwin Initiative programme (DI), the project partnership has run training workshops on amphibian biology and conservation for local students and conservation organizations, nature guiding for local boatmen, and souvenir production for unemployed artisans. In addition, the project has been engaged with ongoing biological research on population status and the assessment and impact of threats, workshop facilitation, and public education and awareness-raising.

Sources: (Griffiths, Bride, et al., 2004; Griffiths, Graue, et al. 2004; McKay, 2003; Zambrano, et al., 2010)
Image: Almee Ray

 

Axolotl

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Axolotls can detect electrical fields.

Axolotls can detect electrical fields and also use their vision and chemical cues to perceive their environment and discover prey.

Sources: (Majchrzak, 2004)
Image: John Clare

 

Axolotl

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“Axolotl” is a specific species of aquatic salamander, although the name is mistakenly and erroneously used to refer to other species.

Larvae of other ambystomids, such as the larval stage of the tiger salamander, Ambystoma tigrinum, are often erroneously referred to as axolotls. The name axolotl should be used only when referring to Ambystoma mexicanum and not to any other ambystomid salamander.

Historically, the Mexican axolotl has been listed under more than 40 different names and spellings; all, except Ambystoma tigrinum, have been rejected by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN).

Sources: (Bagnara, Armstrong, & Malacinski, 1989; Brunst, January 1955, November 1955; Majchrzak, 2004; Smith, 1969)
Image: John Clare

 

Axolotl

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Metamorphosis can be artificially induced in axolotls via thyroid hormone injections.

Metamorphosis can be artificially induced in axolotls via thyroid hormone injections. In the wild, axolotls rarely, if ever, metamorphose.

Expected laboratory longevity is 5-6 years, however, some axolotls have been known to live as long as 10-15 years. Most laboratory animals die shortly after metamorphosis, though.

Sources: (Brunst, January 1955; Majchrzak, 2004)
Image: Biodiversity Heritage Library

 

Axolotl

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No popular experimental animal is more misunderstood or more diversely treated taxonomically than the axolotl.

No popular experimental animal is more misunderstood and none has been more diversely treated taxonomically than the axolotl, a frequently neotenic Mexican salamander properly known at all stages of its life as Ambystoma mexicanum. The misconceptions made evident include application of the common name, the taxonomic status of the population to which the name “axolotl” is properly applied, the proper scientific and generic names for the axolotl, the proper name for the larval as opposed to the adult stage, the degree of neoteny occurruing, and the cause for transformation.

Larvae of other ambystomids, such as the larval stage of the tiger salamander, Ambystoma tigrinum, are often erroneously referred to as axolotls. The name, “axolotl,” should be used only when referring to Ambystoma mexicanum and not to any other ambystomid salamander.

Historically, the Mexican axolotl has been listed under more than 40 different names and spellings; all, except Ambystoma tigrinum, have been rejected by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN).

Sources: (Bagnara, Armstrong, & Malacinski, 1989; Brunst, January 1955, November 1955; Majchrzak, 2004; Smith, 1969)
Image: John Clare

Axolotl

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Axolotl are preyed on by large fish, such as Asian carp and African tilapia.

Axolotls may be preyed on by large fish and conspecifics, such as Asian carp and African tilapia.

These large fish have only recently been introduced into the lakes where axolotls are found, contributing to the demise of their populations. Introduced fishes have increased to high abundances and have impacted wild axolotls through competition and predation. A recent study collected 600 kilograms of tilapia in one small channel using a 100 meter net.

Sources: (Griffiths, et al., 2004; Majchrzak, 2004; Zambrano, et al., 2010)
Image: John Clare

Axolotl

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There are no negative effects of axolotls on humans.

Sources: (Majchrzak, 2004)
Image: John Clare

Axolotl

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Axolotls are solitary and may be active at any time of the day.

Sources: (Majchrzak, 2004)
Image: Pablo Necochea

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Axolotl: Ambystoma mexicanum

This month’s featured animal species is the Axolotl, an unusual species of salamander from the Urodela order and part of the larger Amphibia class.

 

LEARN

Learn more about the critically endangered axolotl. Watch videos, view images, and read through publications and other resources all about this unusual amphibian on the November 2017 FaunaFocus page, a hub for axolotl research, media, and discovery. Learn even more about this incredible aquatic creature by checking FaunaFocus.com and @FaunaFocus on Twitter daily for bite-sized FaunaFacts.

 

CREATE

Let inspiration strike! Create something with the axolotl in mind, whether it be a fictional story, simple poem, layered watercolor, interpretive dance, whatever medium you most resonate with! Do you see abstractions in the axolotl’s varied patterns and colorations? Does the axolotl’s Mexican aquatic habitat inspire you? Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, everyone has the ability to create. Try something new or hone your craft. Just let the axolotl spark your imagination!

 

SHARE

Let’s focus on the axolotl together! Find a family of wildlife-lovers on the FaunaFocus Twitch Stream Team or in the FaunaFocus Discord Server, or browse the hashtag #FaunaFocus to find more animal-themed content! Livestream your creative process or record it in a video. Tweet about your own research and findings, or discuss and identify in the Discord channels. Post your sketches, works-in-progress, and final creations on the social media of your choice. Don’t forget the hashtag!

 

GROW

For an extra challenge, enter the Fauna Free-For-All! Submit your best axolotl-inspired creation to be live-judged on Twitch at the end of the month. Allow your artwork to be critiqued to find your strengths and weaknesses and improve your work in the future. All artists, art-forms, and media are eligible, just don’t miss the deadline!

 

IMAGE

John Clare

Once again, our community has come together and shared its incredible talents in the FaunaFocus Free-For-All competition by creating an array of wonderfully unique works of art inspired by October’s FaunaFocus, the red panda.

Nine artists put their work forwards to be judged on Monday, October 29th’s judging livestream, on the FaunaFocus Twitch Stream Team page, by judges Noelle M. Brooks, PrendorianCrab, and Draws_With_Kitties. From gouache to digital the diversity of mediums utilized this month was greatly notable. All artists did a wonderful job at artistically portraying the red panda’s unique features!

Congratulations to October 2017’s Free-For-All Winner, Misscbear, whose serene and whimsical piece brought out all the positive traits of the red panda through harmonious, deliberate visual language. Claire will choose the featured animal species for the month of December, which will be revealed at the end of November’s Free-For-All judging livestream.

November’s Free-For-All will feature the remarkable axolotl!

 

 

Calendar | Free-For-All | Free-For-All Archives

Red Panda

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There is no sexual dimorphism in the size or color of red pandas.

There is no sexual dimorphism in the size or color of red pandas, meaning both males and females are similar.

The mean mass of adult male red pandas is 5 kilograms, but can range from 3.7 to 6.2 kilograms. For females, the mean mass is 4.9 kilograms and varies from 4.2 to 6 kilograms.

The length of the red panda’s head and body is 560 to 625 millimeters and the length of the red panda’s tail is 370 to 472 millimeters.

Sources: (Pocock, 1941; Roberts, 1975l; Roberts & Gittleman, 1984; Roberts & Kessler, 1979)
Image: Mathias Appel

Holiday Art Trade 2017

The holiday season is approaching and FaunaFocus wants to spread the cheer!

Throughout the months of November and December, FaunaFocus will be hosting a Holiday Art Trade and all are welcome to join! Surprise someone with an animal-themed artwork of their choice and receive an artwork, yourself, “Secret Santa” style!

 

GET INVOLVED
  1. Sign Up: Submit your contact information and the animal you’d like drawn for you using the form below.
  2. Receive Email: On Monday, November 13th, you will receive an email with the name of the person you’ll be creating artwork for and the animal to feature in the art. Please keep this information private until the artwork is complete.
  3. Create Art: Create artwork featuring the requested animal that abides by the rules.
  4. Give Art: Post the completed artwork to the FaunaFocus Discord Server in the #holiday-art-trade channel, tagging the person it was created for, any time before the deadline.
  5. Receive Art: Check the FaunaFocus Discord Server for the artwork created for you!

 

RULES

Traded artworks must abide by the following rules.

  1. Eligibility: All artists, media, and art forms are eligible.
  2. Theme: Artworks must feature the requested animal.
  3. Originality: Artworks must be of original construction and must not copy another source or violate any copyrights.
  4. Tasteful Intent: Artworks should not have negative intentions or contain excessive gore, violence, nudity, profanity, etc.
  5. Anonymity: Don’t reveal the person you were assigned until the artwork is completed and posted.
  6. Deadline: All artworks must be submitted to the FaunaFocus Discord Server in the #holiday-art-trade channel by 12:00pm Central Standard Time on Monday, January 1st, 2018.

 

Sign Up for FaunaFocus Holiday Art Trade 2017

Sign up ended Monday, November 13th. Sign ups are still welcome, but are not guaranteed to be matched up.

Red Panda

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Native names applied to the red panda include lesser panda, fire fox, bear cat, wah, ye, nigalya ponya, thokya, woker, sankam, and wokdonka.

The common name “panda” was applied to the red panda when it was first presented to the western scientific community in 1821. Ailuropoda was designated the “giant” panda after its discovery in 1869 because of some affinities to Ailurus; subsequently the latter was relegated to “lesser” panda. The designation “red” panda is preferred in view of the chronological seniority of Ailurus in the scientific literature and the more accurate description given by this term.

Native names applied to the red panda include lesser panda, fire fox, bear cat, wah, ye, nigalya ponya, thokya, woker, sankam, and wokdonka. The origin of the name “panda” is unknown.

Sources: (Hardwicke, 1827; Roberts & Gittleman, 1984)
Image: Mathias Appel

Red Panda

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Young red pandas attain adult size at 12 months and are sexually mature by 18 months.

All known births occur between 1600 and 0900 h, the period of highest activity. Parturition occurs rapidly, with females quickly cleaning the cubs and remaining with them for 60-90% of the time during the first few days after birth. For the first 7 to 10 days after birth, young remain essentially immobile, except when nursing. The mother remains curled around them, when in the nest, and, in her absence, the young sleep in a curled or semi-curled position, often in contact with one another.

After the cubs are about 1 week old, the females gradually spend more time away from them, returning every few hours to nurse and groom them. Gradually, the young become more active and move about in an uncoordinated fashion. They are able to right themselves when placed on their back by day 12. By day 18, the eyes are open and the young are able to orient toward light. By day 60, siblings are engaging in rough and tumble play in the nest and frequently venture to the entrance.

Young are nest-bound for approximately 90 days, after which, they make their first excursions from the nest at night. They are able to climb proficiently by this time. At first, mothers attempt to restrain cubs from emerging, but cubs soon become too active to monitor closely. Initial excursions from the nest coincide with the first evidence of the young eating solid food.

By 120 days of age, young consistently rest away from the nest area with their mother. Mother-young proximity continues to be close until the onset of the next breading season when mild aggression between the mother and young may occur.

Young red pandas attain adult size at approximately 12 months and are sexually mature at approximately 18 months.

Sources: (Erken & Jacobi, 1972; Roberts, 1975, 1980, 1981; Roberts & Gittleman, 1984)
Image: Mathias Appel

Red Panda

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Red pandas have semi-retractile claws used effectively in climbing.

The five digits on each foot of the red panda are in a strongly curved line and and terminate with curved semiretractile claws, used effectively in climbing.

The radial sesamoid bone of the wrist articulates primarily with the radial carpal bone and is greatly enlarged but relatively less so than the sesamoid bone of the giant panda, Ailuropoda. The postscapular fossa is moderately large and may be indicative of its arboreality where the forelimbs are more supportive while climbing than the hindlimbs.

Forepaws are frequently used to pick, manipulate, and pull apart food, particularly bamboo leaves and stalks.

Sources: (Davis, 1949, 1964; Roberts, 1981; Roberts & Gittleman, 1984)
Image: Mathias Appel

Red Panda

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In captivity, male red pandas can be left with females year-round, but females left together in the same enclosure may steal or kill each other’s young.

In captivity, male red pandas can be left with females year-round, but females left together in the same enclosure may steal or kill the young of others. The ideal social grouping is a mated pair and their dependent offspring, although a male and two females can be maintained together during the breeding season.

Sources: (Glatston, 1980; Roberts, 1980; Roberts & Gittleman, 1984)
Image: Mathias Appel

Red Panda

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In captivity, red pandas live well in mixed-sex groups, but in the wild, they remain solitary.

At birth, the eyes and ears of the red panda are closed, and head, body, and tail are covered with thick, woolly, gray-buff fur approximately 25 millimeters long. The skin is pink, plantar surfaces of the feet are unfurred, mystaceal vibrissae are about 20 millimeters long, and the pelage lacks adult coloration and markings. The tail is proportionately shorter in young than in adults, averaging about 70 millimeters or 25% of the total length in contrast to about 40% of the total length in adults. Total length is about 280 millimeters and weigth is 110 to 130 grams.

By day 14, long reddish guard hairs appear giving a slightly reddish tinge. Eyes and ears open by day 18. Premolars, both upper and lower, first appear at about 30 days and complete dentition appears by 6 months. Adult coloration and coat pattern are discernable at about day 50; the tail is ringed, the face white with a dark track from the eye to the corner of the mouth, and the soles of the feet are fully furred. Adult coloration and patterning essentially are complete by day 70. Adult size and mass are attained by 12 months of age.

Sources: (Conway, 1981; Erken & Jacobi, 1972; Gray, 1970; Roberts, 1975, 1981; Roberts & Gittleman, 1984; Roberts & Kessler, 1979)
Image: Mathias Appel

Red Panda

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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 maintaing 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.

Sources: (Pocock, 1921; Roberts, 1980, 1981; Roberts & Gittleman, 1984; Roberts & Kessler, 1979)
Image: Mathias Appel