The 5 Stages of Red Pandas Growth (All You Need To Know!)

It is very common to see a puppy grow into a dog over time. But you might want to know if red pandas grow and develop like dogs and other animals. 

The quick answer is Yes! Like all living beings, red pandas also develop from tiny babies to grown adults. 

It takes around a year for red pandas to grow in size. Until the time a baby red panda is grown up, it stays with its mother. 

In this article, I will discuss how red pandas pass through different stages of development.

Here’s an overview of what we will discuss:

Gestation & Birth 132 days (Gestation Period)
Mother gives birth to a baby panda
Baby weighs 0.22 lbs (100 gms)
Furless and pink in color
1-3 MonthsCub opens eyes
Growth of fur 
Starts making sounds
3-6 MonthsCub develops red fur color
Roam outside the nest
Consume solid food
Learns to hunt
6-12 MonthsCub is fully grown
Hunt without mother’s help
After 12 MonthsPandas are ready to mate

Table of Contents

Gestation & Birth 

Red pandas have a gestation period of 132 days. This is longer than the gestation period of related animals like raccoons (65 days) and foxes (52 days) and close to that of giant pandas (160 days).

Mother red pandas gain weight during this period and considerably slower (especially 6 weeks before giving birth to the baby panda).

They generally give birth to the baby between March and May. 

The red pandas give birth in small nests. The mother panda starts making the nest many days before giving birth. She collects dry branches, leaves, and grass and carries them to the nesting site to make a shallow nest. 

She might also select hollow trees as a nest. Generally, all mother pandas give birth during a time when she is most active (usually 4 pm to 9 am). Usually, a single cub is born in each pregnancy. 

After giving birth, the mother panda cleans the baby panda and she always stays close to the baby. She learns to recognize the baby by its smell. 

1-3 months of development

At birth, the baby cub is about 0.22 lbs (100 gms) in weight. At this stage, the cub is furless and pink in color. From the first week, the baby panda shows signs of fast development like fur on the body and making sounds. 

By the second or third week, the eyes open and it starts getting a fur coat. At this point, the mother panda feels confident to leave the nest for a few hours at a time. 

The baby always stays in the nest till it is 3 months old. 

3-6 months of development

A picture of panda cubs
Image Source:

By the third month, the little panda has the fur color of an adult. The baby panda is now ready to roam outside its nest. 

It can also now eat solid food. It also goes on expeditions with the mother panda and learns how to forage and hunt. 

These skills are then practiced on small insects, reptiles, or animals. Throughout the time, however, the baby panda stays with the mother. 

6-12 months of development

By the sixth month, the pandas are fully grown in size. It stays with the mother panda in the same nest and will continue doing so until the birth of the next baby. 

At this stage, the panda hunts and collects food on its own without help from the mother.

Development after 12 months

By the end of the 18th month, the panda becomes grown up to mate and by the third year, they become fully mature. 

After the mother panda gives birth to a new baby, the young adult leaves the nest. 

How Big Do Red Pandas Grow?

Generally, red pandas are about 1.6 ft(50 cm) to 1.9 ft (60 cm) long, 1.1 ft (35 cm) tall, and weigh less than 30 lbs (13.6 kg). It is close to the size of a house cat. 

A quick side fact 

The distinct white patches on the face of the red panda are luminescent. It means their patches can almost glow in a dimly lit area. This allows the baby pandas to locate their mothers in near darkness.

How Long Does It Take For a Red Panda To Fully Mature?

Red pandas gain full maturity by the time they’re three years old. However, by the first year, it reaches sexual maturity. 

This is much faster compared to the giant pandas whose babies reach maturity by the age of six to eight years. The time it takes for a baby red panda to mature is close to that of cats. 


Do Red Pandas Turn Red With Age?

A picture of a red panda

Yes, as the red pandas mature, they slowly develop their famous red fur color. When it is young the fur color is mostly grey and black. 

The grey fur slowly becomes bright red as the cub matures. The change in color generally occurs by the third month and the baby panda starts to leave its nest to feed. 

Why Did Red Pandas Develop Opposable Thumbs?

The sixth finger or the “false thumb” becomes handy when the pandas are eating, bending, or climbing bamboo trees. 

This indicates a potential advantage in terms of chances of surviving. The trait developed in both red and giant pandas to adapt to similar habitats where bamboo grew in abundance. 

Thus, it can be said that the false thumbs developed to improve the ability to better handle bamboo plants and therefore improve chances of survival. 

How Old Can a Red Panda Live Up to? 

Red pandas can generally live for 10 to 13 years. However, some red pandas have been recorded to live 15 or even 21 years. 

The lifespan of the red panda depends on many factors such as whether the habitat is comfortable, the availability of good food, and the absence of hunters or predators. 

The oldest red panda actually lived 22 years in the Montana Zoo in the USA. 

Final Thoughts

In this article, we discussed how red pandas grow and develop and some other interesting facts about them. 

The red panda has a gestation period of 132 days, during which the mother panda becomes large and slow. She selects or builds a small nest before giving birth.

By the first week, the cub opens its eyes and does not leave the nest until its 3 months old. 

By the third month, the baby develops the characteristic colors of an adult and it ventures outside its nest. 

By the sixth month, it is fully grown and achieves full maturity by the third year. The red pandas generally grow to the size of house cats and live up to 13 years on average. 

With age, they slowly get the red color. They also have false thumbs just like giant pandas, even though they are not closely related. 

Wait, red pandas can grow but can they swim? Read this article Can Red Pandas Swim? (5 Things You Need to Know!) to find out!