Are Red Pandas Related To Walruses? (Mystery Solved!)

The taxonomic study of red pandas never seems to end. They have been compared with so many creatures and one of them happens to be walruses.

And if you’re wondering if red pandas are related to walruses, here’s what you need to know. 

Red pandas are not related to walruses. A red panda belongs to the family Ailuridae while walruses belong to the family Odobenidae.

Family isn’t the only thing that makes these two creatures different species. There are many more reasons why they aren’t related.

In this article, we’ll explore these differences in detail and you’ll get to see the scientific evidence behind this claim.

Keep reading below.

Table of Contents

Why are Red Pandas Different From Walruses?

Here’s a summary of all these differences we’ll be discussing below:

DifferencesRed Pandas Walruses
Taxonomy/ Classification AiluridaeOdobenidae
Appearance Reddish-brown fur. Bear-like bodies. Ringed tails. Facial markings. Solid and stocky bodies (bear-like)Cinnamon-brown color. Thick and wrinkled skin. Broad mustaches. Rounded spindle-like bodies. 
Native Home AsiaSemi-aquatic 
HabitatArboreal Five digits only on each flipper  (i.e. both front and back).
Limb Structure Two arms and two legs. 
Four flippers (fin-footed). 
DigitsSix digits (including pseudo thumbs) on the front paws and five digits on the back paws.Front and back flippers, not arms and legs.
TeethA pair of canines up and down their jaws. Large flattened bamboo crushing molars. A pair of largely elongated canines in the upper jaw only.

Small molars are scattered both in the upper and lower jaws. 
SoundBarks, twitters, Huff quacksChimes, bellows, taps, etc.
Social Behavior Solitary Live in herds, pods, or huddles. 

Taxonomy/ Classification

Red pandas belong to a unique family of their own – Ailuridae. In addition, they are the only surviving members of this family. 

So no other creature including walruses shares this family with them. Walruses belong to the extant seal family, Odobenidae.

What’s more, they’re equally the only members of their family. In addition, red pandas and walruses belong to different genera. 

See the classification of both creatures:

Classification Red PandaWalrus
KingdomAnimalia Animalia
Phylum Chordata Chordata
OrderCarnivora Carnivora
Clade: Pinnipedia
Family Ailuridae Odobenidae
SpeciesAilurus fulgensOdobenus rosmarus

So their differences in taxonomy prove they aren’t related to each other.


A Red Panda's Beautiful Reddish-Brown Fur

When you look at a red panda, do you see anything like a walrus? Of course not! They look different from each other.

Red pandas have fur that appears reddish-brown almost everywhere. But their belly areas and limbs, specifically, are black. 

Their faces have white markings and their long bus tails have beautiful ring patterns. In general, a red panda has a very beautiful look.

In addition, red pandas have round heads with stocky bodies. Their body shapes are similar in shape to that of bears. 

A Walrus's Wrinkled and Rounded Body

In contrast to this, walruses do not look anything like this. Unlike red pandas, short fur covers walruses’ bodies. This makes them appear bald. 

In addition, their skins are thick and wrinkled which appears cinnamon brown. Their color gets lighter as they grow older.

Walruses, on the other hand, have rounded spindle-like shapes. Their bodies are wide in the middle and become smaller at both ends just like lemons.

They also have long tusks and unique mustaches on their faces. These are features red pandas don’t have.


A Cute red Panda Eating Bamboo

Red pandas are primarily herbivorous. This is because about 95% of the food they eat is bamboo

In addition, the foods they occasionally eat make up the remaining 5% percent. This includes meat and other plants such as fruits and leaves.

Walruses eat meat as carnivores. Their meaty diet includes clams, snails, worms, octopuses, and many other small marine creatures.

Native Home

Another way red pandas and walruses are different is their native range. Red pandas have a small distribution. 

They naturally live in some parts of Asia only. These native homes include China, India, Tibet, Nepal, Myanmar, and Bhutan.

Anywhere outside Asia is a foreign place for red pandas. In contrast to this, walruses are native to the Arctic and subarctic parts of the world close to the north pole.

In other words, they live naturally around the Arctic, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans.


Red Panda Resting on a Tree

Red pandas are arboreal kinds of terrestrial animals. They love trees and make them their homes.

They could shelter either on large tree branches or in tree hollows. It just has to be a tree or tree-like structure.

A Walrus on Sea Ice

A walrus, on the other hand, is a marine kind of terrestrial animal. Their habitat is the Sea ice. And they prefer staying in shallow waters but temporarily. 

When they aren’t in water on land (rocky coastlines) or ice floes (large packs of floating ice). this difference in habitat alone proves that red pandas are not related to walruses in any way.

Limb Structure

A red panda has four limbs consisting of two arms (front limbs) and two legs (back limbs). And on their paws, they have digits with semi-retractable claws.

Their front digits are six in total, which includes five true fingers and a false thumb. Their back paws only have five toes.

In comparison, a walrus has limbs that are not in any way like that of red pandas. They have flippers, not arms and legs.

What’s more interesting is that they can rotate their hind flippers forward under their bodies. This allows them to crawl on land when they get out of water.

In addition, all their flippers—front and back limbs— have five toes each on them.


A Red Panda's Pair of Short Canines

Of course, no large tusks are coming out of a red panda’s mouth. Red pandas have a teeth structure that’s different from that of walruses. 

As carnivores, red pandas have canines, but short ones. They also have flattened crown-shaped premolars and molars. 

This is unlike that of most mammalian carnivores. And these premolars and molars are adapted to grinding the tough bamboo red pandas eat every day.

A Walrus's Pair of Long Tusks

A walrus, on the other hand, has a pair of tusks in their upper jaws. These tusks are huge elongated canine teeth.

Moreover, they are walruses’ most unique features. Aside from these large canines, they have molars scattered in both their upper and lower jaws.


These two creatures also sound different. Red pandas communicate with different sounds such as barks, hoots, twitters, and huff quacks. 

These aren’t the way walruses sound. Instead, they make sounds such as chiming, grunting, bellowing, tapping, and soft whistling. 

If both animals were to chat with each other, they’d be confused. This is one of the many reasons why they aren’t related to each other.

Social Behavior

Red pandas are solitary animals. They prefer to live and survive alone and in their own space.

And this makes them territorial. The times you might see red pandas staying together are during mating and breeding times.

Males will normally hang out with females to gain mating chances. Additionally, mothers will live for some time with their cubs till they fully raise them. 

A Herd of Walruses Living Together

Unlike red pandas, walruses are social creatures. They live in large groups called herds, huddles, or pods. They haul out and do a lot together.

Funny enough, males form separate herds, and females do the same. In other words, their group is normally divided based on sex.

What Do Red Pandas and Walruses Have in Common?

We’ve seen so many reasons why red pandas are different from walruses. Still, there are a few similarities between the two.

See them below:

  • They are both sole survivors of their different families.
  • Both red pandas and walruses have whiskers.
  • Red pandas and walruses are members of the order Carnivora.
  • They both love snow
A Raccoon - Ring-Tailed Creatures Closely Related To Red Pandas

Red pandas are closely related to raccoons. Scientists believe that red pandas and raccoons shared a common ancestor many years ago.

But what makes them more related to red pandas is their similarities and traits. Red pandas are even nicknamed red raccoons! 

Some of these similarities include their facial patterns, bush-ringed tails, teeth structure, and more. 


An Eared Seal (Sea Lion) - Close Relative of Walruses

Walruses are closely related to other seals such as true seals and sea lions. 

True seals (earless seals) belong to the extant family Phocidae. Sea lions (eared seals) belong to the family Otariidae. 

These animals including walruses all have their own families but are all pinnipeds. 

As pinnipeds, they have a lot in common. They’re semi-aquatic marine creatures with rounded bodies and have flippers as limbs (fin-footed).

Final Thoughts

In summary, red pandas are not related to walruses. A red panda belongs to the family Ailuridae while walruses belong to the family Odobenidae. 

See some other differences to remember:

  • Red pandas have the shape of bears whereas walruses have round spindle-like bodies.
  • Red pandas are primarily herbivorous whereas walruses are carnivorous. 
  • Walruses don’t have arms and legs like red pandas. They have flippers as their limbs.
  • A red panda lives on trees while a walrus lives on sea ice. 
  • Red pandas live naturally in Asia only. Walruses live in the Arctic and Subarctic regions. 

Understand that red pandas don’t just take the stocky and solid shape of bears. 

They are equally nicknamed bearcats! Could there be a relationship between the two creatures? 

Find out all you need to know about red pandas and bears in our article  – Are Red Pandas Related to Bears?