Can Red Pandas Swim? (5 Facts You Need to Know!)

Red pandas have several interesting behaviors. These pandas perform different activities, which makes you wonder whether they can swim. 

And here’s what I found out –

Yes, red pandas are excellent swimmers. They can swim up to 12 mph (19.3 kph). These red pandas swim very well, but they only do it sometimes. 

Red pandas usually swim to keep their temperature low and protect themselves.

However, there are other reasons why they do this. Let’s discuss five of the most common reasons below!

Table of Contents

Why Do Red Pandas Swim?

Even though swimming is occasional, it tends to be helpful. Below are the five main reasons why red pandas swim:

  1. Cooling
  2. Protection
  3. Exercise
  4. Search for drinking water
  5. Search for new destinations


When summer comes, the red panda environment tends to be quite hot. During this summer, red pandas love getting into the water.

Swimming allows the bodies of these red pandas to cool for a while.


Like most other wild animals, red pandas also defend themselves. Despite using tree tops as protection, water is also perfect.

Once a threat appears, red pandas get into the water and swim to a safer spot.

Red pandas may also get in the water and swim around the center for protection.


Many animals, including humans, use swimming as a form of exercise.

Red pandas also fall among the bracket. These pandas love taking swimming as a form of exercise and keeping their mind active.

Search for Drinking Water

Red pandas need water for survival, just like most other mammals. However, red pandas do not just drink any water. These pandas only drink clean water.

When a section of a water body is dirty, red pandas usually swim to other sides. These pandas may swim for some distance until they find clean water for consumption.

The Search for New Destinations

Red pandas may cross water bodies in search of new locations.

These pandas may get bored in their area, and the urge for a new place to live may force them across the waters.

However, red pandas cannot swim across wide water bodies such as a whole lake. Red pandas usually move to the nearest land after swimming for a while.

The nearest land prevents them from fatigue due to swimming.

If the nearest land offers red pandas food and other necessities, they can settle for a while.

The lack of all requirements in a location forces red pandas to swim again in search of a new place.

How Do Red Pandas Swim?

Red pandas are excellent swimmers thanks to their tails and long fur coats.

These pandas use their tails when paddling in the water. The long furry coats are very handy when it comes to warmth.

When swimming in cold water, the warmth from the fur keeps the red pandas from freezing.

On some occasions, red pandas usually dive into the water. With the tails, these pandas have a good chance of moving with the currents in the water.

Red pandas only dive when searching for food like fish. These pandas would never dive just for fun. Only their needs inside the water would make them dive.

These pandas have a specific diving position that helps improve their diving performance. A good diving position also helps when escaping predators.

How Fast Can Red Pandas Swim?

Red pandas swim up to 12 miles per hour (19.3 kilometers per hour). This speed makes these mammals excellent swimmers.

Red pandas are quite small animals which is a factor that helps in increasing their speed.

Such a high speed makes them unbeatable with other animals of the same size.

Other factors may also affect the speed of red pandas in water. Some of the main factors affecting the speed of red pandas in water include:

  1. Water Current movement
  2. Type of water body

The Water Current Movement

The direction of the water current always plays a huge role in determining the speed of red pandas in water.

In some cases, the direction of the water current may go with the red panda. Once the current goes in the red panda’s favor, the speed goes higher.

On other occasions, the current may be against the red panda. The speed may drop drastically when the water current is opposite the red panda’s direction.

Type of Water Body

The type of water body also affects the speed of red pandas. Stationary waters are better than moving waters for red pandas swimming. A red panda’s speed in motionless waters may always go higher.

In moving waters such as rivers, the red panda’s speed reduces.

How Long Can Red Pandas Swim?

Because of the strong front legs, red pandas can swim for up to four hours. Red pandas rarely swim for long. This breed does not like spending time inside the water.

Red pandas only swim when they need to.

One of the main things that may make red pandas swim for long is food. The search for fish and other animals may keep red pandas for a long period in the water.

Where Do Red Pandas Swim?

Red pandas may swim in different types of water bodies. You may find red pandas in:

  1. Swamps
  2. Rivers
  3. Lakes
  4. Rainwater

The location where red pandas swim all depends on the availability of food. Other factors, such as protection, may also matter when it comes to where red pandas swim.


Occasionally, you may spot red pandas swimming in shallow waters like swamps. Swampy waters may usually host bamboo.

Red pandas may swim long in swamps, searching for good bamboo to feed.


You may also see these pandas on rivers regarding fish and leaves.

The favorite leaves of the red pandas may be on the river banks. The availability of these leaves on the river may also make them swim on waterways.

Once there is some threat on land, red pandas may get into rivers for protection. If the predator on the ground can’t swim, it may be an advantage to the red panda.


Red pandas don’t like swimming in very deep waters, but occasionally you may spot them in lakes. Their urge to search for other foods, such as fish, sometimes makes them want to swim in lakes.

The red pandas swim on lakes and do not go so deep. Very deep waters may host some threats to red pandas.


Red pandas may also swim in shallow waters, such as rainwater. These pandas swim in shallow waters in search of their favorite insects.

Final Thoughts

All red pandas can swim in water when they need to. The time that red pandas spend in water depends on the reason.

A few factors, such as the current and type of water body, also affect red pandas’ behavior in water.

Be generous, and feel free to share this article with your friends if you find it helpful. You may also learn about 7 amazing things red pandas can do.