Red Pandas and Its Smell (7 Facts You Should Know!)

There are many interesting rumors about the red pandas’ smell. For example, you might have heard that they could even smell like “popcorn”!

In this article, you will find out the most common questions about red pandas and their smell.

Let’s discuss it below!

Do Red Pandas Smell Bad?

Yes, red pandas usually smell bad, but not all the time. They typically give out a bad smell only during the marking of their territory. The bad smell prevents other animals or people from coming around.

A red panda’s bad smell comes as a result of several features in its body. These features include a number of stink glands that give out waxes containing a bad smell.

Where Can You Find The Red Pandas Stink Gland?

The Tail Section

The red pandas stink gland located on underneath its tail

Red pandas have stink glands under the tail, which give out a waxy substance. The waxy component from these glands is responsible for bringing the bad smell.

The stink glands are on the same spot in the male and female red pandas.

Some more stink glands are also on the feet. The stink coming out from these glands is mostly odorless to humans.

To other red pandas, the stench from the foot glands is just as strong as the stinks from the other side. Red pandas are very sensitive to smell, so they can still smell the odor from their feet’ stink glands.

The Anal Section

Red pandas also give out a stinky smell from the anal glands. The anal stink glands work almost the same way as the foot glands.

These anal glands give out a waxy compound which brings out the stinky smell. The only difference between the anal glands and the foot glands is that humans can get to smell the stink.

The female pandas usually give out an additional stink from their urine. The stink does not come from any external gland but only directly from the chemicals in the urine.

The stench is not any less strong than the stinks from the other glands. The effect of the urine stink on other animals is quite the same.

Do Red Pandas Smell Like Popcorn?

Yes, red pandas have a touch of the popcorn scent but only occasionally. The popcorn scent comes from the same glands the red pandas use to secret the bad smell.

The sweet popcorn-like smell applies mostly during the mating season only. This smell helps in attracting red pandas of the opposite sex closer.

Do Red Pandas Have a Good Sense of Smell?

Yes, red pandas do have a good sense of smell. The availability of chemical signals in red pandas gives them the ability to have a very strong sense of smell. 

The smelling capability of pandas may go very far distances. 

Did you know that red pandas mainly communicate using chemical signals? This factor makes them highly dependent on their sense of smell.

A good sense of smell in red pandas plays a vital role in their survival and lifestyle.

The fact that red pandas are loners brings their strong sense of smell to work. A strong smelling capability usually alerts them of any other red panda near or around them.

How Far Can Red Pandas Smell?

Red pandas can smell from many miles away. These mammals can smell with ten times more capability than dogs. Red pandas can smell up to eight times more than humans.

The small size of the red panda’s nose can make you think that it can only smell scents just a few miles away.

Keep in mind that the nose size is as small as the red panda, but the smelling capability is quite the opposite.

Do Red Pandas Use Their Tongue to Smell?

Red panda's tongue for smelling

Yes, on some occasions. Red pandas can bring in more than the usual features of smelling. 

They use their tongue’s lower side to taste different odors and thus identify the smell. Red pandas are the only mammals in the wild with this form of natural adaptation.

The capability of red pandas to smell using their tongue becomes possible because the tongue has a cone-like structure. The cone-shaped tongue collects all the liquid and brings it near a gland in the mouth.

How Do Red Pandas Smell?

Red pandas have a pleasant smell and a disturbing one. Scent glands and urine usually determine the smell coming out on several occasions. 

For example:

The scent glands in different parts of a red panda’s body may be prone to unpleasant odors. However, the situation completely changes regarding a red panda’s poop.

This mammal can give out poop that smells relatively nice, especially to humans. The pleasant poop smell comes because of the bamboo fragrance from the red panda’s healthy natural diet.

Because of these nice smelling feces, a red panda’s natural surroundings may remain nice. Therefore, this gives them that beautiful smell.


Red pandas usually have that unpleasant smell but only on a few occasions. The red panda’s body contains several stink glands on different sections of the body parts. 

If they feel tense, the red pandas can produce a bad smell. This is because they are solitary animals. 

When it becomes too crowded, these mammals secrete wax with bad smells for everyone around. However, occasionally, you may experience the sweet scent of a red panda, mostly from its poop.

Besides releasing a bad smell, did you know that red pandas also make sounds when they feel threatened?

Click here to learn more about the 7 unique sounds red pandas make!