Are Red Pandas Dumb? (5 Possible Reasons Why!)

Have you ever seen videos of red pandas in a zoo doing silly things? If yes, you may be wondering, “are they dumb creatures?”

The quick answer is NO. 

Red pandas are not dumb as many people may think. They are distantly related to intelligent species like raccoons and bears. 

Even studies prove that red pandas are intelligent species that know when to react. 

But the question is, why would people think of them as dumb? 

Table of Contents

5 Reasons Why People Consider Red Pandas Dumb

Red Panda Behaves Weirdly

Believe it or not, the rumor of red pandas being dumb is partly due to their awkward behavior. Red pandas walk very weirdly. They waddle walk. 

Although it is not their fault, they are made like this. The front legs of red pandas are short and angled. This is what gives them the weird walk they are so famous for.

Also, they are not very comfortable walking. Their bone structure is not designed to let them move efficiently on the ground. This sway from side-to-side walk happens when they move on the floor. 

Generally, they do not feel the need to step on the ground, but when they do, their weird way of walking catches our eyes.

Red pandas also fight in a weird but cute way. They stand on their hind legs and attack the opponent. 

Moreover, although red pandas are faster than giant pandas, they hardly run.

Why do they always live on tree branches when they can run that fast? This is idiotic behavior compared to their speed and abilities. 

Red Pandas Make Funny Sounds

Red pandas make weird sounds and noises. The sounds they make include tweets, squeals, grunts, hisses, and even a “huff-quack”. 

Now, what is a huff quack?

Red pandas make huff quack noises when they are excited. This noise sounds like a mixture of a pig’s snorting and a duck’s quacking.

Red pandas can make shrill barking noises when they feel threatened. Hissing is used to call for a challenge, and hooting sounds for warning. They make grunting noises if they feel scared and squealing noises when hungry.

Undoubtedly, these funny noises, along with their weird behavior, would be called dumb.

They Eat a Lot of Bamboo Stems

The red panda has adjusted to a bamboo diet despite being a carnivore, which might confuse you. These creatures can eat up to 95% of bamboo shoots and leaves daily. 

Bamboo does not give them energy or protein, but still, they mostly eat bamboo stems. They are also heavy bamboo consumers like giant pandas, their distant cousins. 

A picture of a red panda eating bamboo

Their feeding behavior makes them look dumb.

Imagine a cute animal who’s constantly munching on bamboo. Won’t you find it dumb? Besides bamboo, red pandas also eat fruits, mushrooms, leaves, grass, acorns, lichens, and sometimes eggs, mice, and birds.

As they cannot retain the energy gained from the bamboo, they eat and eat some more throughout the day. It is one of the primary reasons they seem like idiots who only know how to eat. 

Another reason they keep on eating is their low metabolism. They spend all day searching for food. Red pandas share the same digestive system as giant pandas.

Hence, they also cannot digest cellulose. This is also the reason for eating a large amount of bamboo.

They are called dumb because, clearly, they have been eating the wrong type of food throughout their lives.

Red Pandas are Lazy

You may find red pandas snoozing most of the time. This is another reason why they appear dumb. Seeing them sleeping every now and then make people comment on their laziness. 

However, are red pandas really lazy? Red pandas are not lazy, but because of their diet, they come across as lazy beings.

As red pandas strictly live on bamboo, they do not gain enough energy. Bamboo gives little to no energy, and they do not have a choice but to sleep it off.

Being lazy is different. In the case of red pandas, they don’t like burning their precious energy. The bamboo diet causes them to eat all day as it is not that nutritious.

Red pandas eat and then sleep on a tree bunch curled up. 

These poor creatures are always tight on energy levels. In winter, red pandas wake up more during the day to eat. They eat because, during this time, red pandas’ metabolic rate decreases.

This is another thing people call dumb. Why would a nocturnal animal wake up every so often just to eat?

Red Pandas Find It Hard to Mate

People think it is stupid of red pandas to claim over a female when the female comes into heat for one to three days.

The female red panda comes into heat in January or February. But the red panda fights and tries to gain the female’s attention for over a month.

The male pandas will try to win over the female panda by fighting with other males. The female panda might not be interested in their fight, but still, they fight over her.

This is one of the causes people think red pandas are dumb creatures.

How Clever Are Red Pandas?

A picture of a red panda showing its tongue

Unlike popular belief, red pandas are very smart and cunning. They know when and what to do very well. Red pandas are generally wild animals and are intelligent enough to react to various things happening in the forest.

Proof That Shows Red Pandas are Also Smart Animals

Below are the 3 major proofs that show red pandas are far more intelligent than they appear to be. 

They Mark Their Territory

Male red pandas are strongly territorial animals. Along with this behavior, red pandas also use scent and sound to warn other red pandas. They use scents to mark their area and warn other animals from entering it.

Red pandas vocalize with different sounds to make alarm signals to other pandas. They do this to ensure the safety of their pack. 

If these cute animals see danger or an enemy, they warn others. Red Pandas use tall trees as a hiding place for this as well. It is easy to look over and detect danger from a high place.

They Can Be Trained

The red pandas can be trained while in captivity. They are intelligent animals who can achieve skills through training. 

When Red pandas are in a zoo or a research center, they are trained to ask for a treat and sometimes do tricks.

These adorable red cuties are intelligent enough to remember specific steps of the tricks. They also can be seen begging for treats even if they are not trained.

They Recognize Their Caretakers

A picture of red panda looking at it's trainer

Red pandas are intelligent enough to recognize their caretakers in captivity. The species can recognize voice and face when introduced to the person over a long period.

The person who comes in close contact with them and regularly continues to meet them is adored by red pandas. They will make excited noises at the voice or upon seeing the person.

Baby red pandas also build strong bonds with their caregivers. All in all, red pandas can form a bond with humans and even recognize their favorite people.


Red pandas are considered dumb by people because of their awkward walking and weird feeding habits, laziness, and the funny sounds they make. 

Nonetheless, red pandas are pretty intelligent. They mark territories and leave scents to warn others. They are also trainable and can identify their favorite person by their voice or face.

To conclude, they are adorable creatures whose videos brighten our day. It doesn’t matter if others think of them as dumb as long as we know the truth. 

In fact, they are smart enough to take care of their young ones as well. But how do they take care of their babies? 

To find out the answer, don’t forget to read How Do Red Pandas Take Care of Their Young? (Explained!)