Published on June 18, 2022
Last Updated on October 12, 2023
While raccoons and red pandas are both cute, fluffy little omnivores, they aren’t actually the same animal! But they both look so similar: how do they compare?
Even though they are visually similar, red pandas and raccoons are only distantly related. They come from two different taxonomic groups. But, they do share many characteristics and behaviors.
Are Raccoons And Red Pandas The Same Thing?
Table of Contents
- 1 Are Raccoons And Red Pandas The Same Thing?
- 2 What’s The Difference Between Raccoons and Red Pandas?
- 3 Can Raccoons Be Red?
- 4 Can Red Pandas Be Gray?
- 5 Author
Red pandas and raccoons are not the same animals, even though they look very similar. But they are definitely cousins! It’s believed that they share a common, extinct ancestor with great pandas and other bears.
Raccoons and red pandas look so similar because they come from the same taxonomic group: Musteloidea! This family also includes skunks and weasels. While red pandas aren’t directly related, you could say that they are distant cousins. At one time, red pandas were even put in the same family as raccoons, Procyonidae.
What’s The Scientific Name Of The Red Panda And The Raccoon?
Even though they come from the same family, these two animals have different genera and species. The scientific name of the red panda is Ailurus fulgens. It is the only living member of its genus, Ailuridae. However, recent studies may show there are two subspecies of the red panda.
The raccoon’s Latin name is Procyon lotor. Its genus, Procyonidae, also includes six other species of raccoons. They are also related to kinkajous, coati’, ringtails, cacomistles, and olingos. Most of the animals in this genus are nocturnal, with excellent climbing skills!
What’s The Difference Between Raccoons and Red Pandas?
Raccoons and red pandas are visually very similar. But these cute critters do have their differences despite their familial relation. These differences include size, habitat, and diet. But they do have similar behaviors and skills!
Are Red Pandas And Raccoons The Same Size?
Both red pandas and raccoons are very similar in size. However, red pandas are slightly smaller. According to the Smithsonian, an adult red panda is, on average, around 8-17 lbs and 36-43 inches long from nose to tail. They’re about the size of a house cat.
Raccoons are slightly heavier. They weigh anywhere from 8-20 lbs. This larger weight could come from the raccoon’s more varied diet, which often includes human food! Even though they are heavier than red pandas, they are slightly shorter at 16-28 inches from head to hindquarters.
Where Do Red Pandas And Raccoons Live?
Red pandas and raccoons do not live in the same areas. However, they do enjoy very similar habitats to each other. Much of this comes from their similar behaviors and physical characteristics.
The raccoon’s range includes most of North America. However, each species has its own range. The common raccoon is the species found in the United States. Common raccoons are intelligent, adaptable creatures that live in both wild and urban areas.
Red pandas, on the other hand, live in parts of Asia. Their favorite home is in temperate forests high in the mountains. They primarily feed on bamboo, even though they are technically omnivorous. Bamboo makes up approximately 94% of their diet!
How Long Do Red Pandas And Raccoons Live?
The common raccoon’s lifespan is approximately 2-3 years in the wild. Raccoons often compete with other omnivores for food which is why their lifespan is so short. But, they can live much longer in captivity.
Unfortunately, little is known about the red panda’s lifespan in the wild. However, red pandas can live to be pretty old in captivity. The oldest captive red panda lived to be 23 years old! Female red pandas are able to reproduce until they are 12 years old, while males can continue to reproduce despite their age.
Do Red Pandas And Raccoons Look Alike?
Yes, red pandas and raccoons look very similar! Because they come from the same family, red pandas and raccoons have very similar skeletal structures. They both have long tails and fingers that are perfect for climbing. They also have a similar face shape, but raccoons have slightly longer noses and shorter tails.
Red pandas and raccoons also share the mask and ringed tail they are both well-known for. However, raccoons are primarily dark grey with a black mask, while red pandas are copper with a rusty mask. The red panda’s mask also blends in with the hair on their head, while the raccoon’s mask is much darker than their other fur.
How Do Raccon And Red Panda Behavior Compare?
Raccoons and red pandas do share similarities in their behavior. Both animals use their finger-like paws to grasp their food. They also both like to nest high up in trees to protect their babies.
They do have different diets, though. Raccoons are much more opportunistic and will eat pretty much anything with nutritional value. This adaptation is why they live so well in urban areas. In contrast, red pandas feed primarily on bamboo leaf tips.
Red pandas and raccoons are both primarily solitary creatures. Both will find a mate and raise their young but otherwise live independently. However, if there’s plenty of food in the area, a mother raccoon may allow her babies to stay in the same territory. They may also band together in the wintertime to find food.
Can Raccoons Be Red?
Yes, raccoons can be red! Although it won’t be as bright as the red panda’s. Some raccoons are born with a genetic mutation called erythrism. This mutation gives them a reddish tint to their hair and skin. This condition often runs in families since it’s a genetic mutation of their natural gray color.
Can Red Pandas Be Gray?
While red pandas are best known for their copper or rust-colored coat, they can also be gray! Baby red pandas are born with thick, charcoal-gray fur. Once the cubs start eating solid foods at about 3-5 months of age, their hair starts to turn red. However, there have not been any sightings of gray adult red pandas.