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From Vocalisation to Marking Territories, This is How Red Pandas Communicate

For the Red Panda, communication happens through sounds, body language, and olfactory senses.  (Credits: Shutterstock)

For the Red Panda, communication happens through sounds, body language, and olfactory senses. (Credits: Shutterstock)

When a red panda comes across a new scent mark, it tests the odour with its tongue.

Communication is one of the essential traits for humans and animals alike; even though these creatures not speak like their human counterparts. For the Red Panda, communication happens through sounds, body language, and olfactory senses. The animal, which is slightly larger than a domestic cat with a bear-like body and thick russet fur, was recently featured in an Instagram post by the Smithsonian’s National Zoo.

The Instagram post shared on Red Panda Day celebrated on September 18, showed the curious animal walking on a log of wood as it smelled a scent. Captioning the video, the Smithsonian's National Zoo gave its 392k followers an insight into the communication methods of the animal.

The caption mentioned that red pandas can squeal, twitter like birds, and “huff-quack,” hiss like a snake and even grunt to communicate with each other. With such versatility in their communication means, one may think that voice is the only way the red pandas can get their point across. However, as the caption further reads, the animal which is mostly found in the eastern Himalayas “rely on scent marking more than vocalizations to communicate. They can scent mark by urinating or rubbing the scent-producing glands at the base of their tails against a surface.”

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While scent-marking an area, red pandas “look like they are doing a “wiggle” dance.” Smithsonian National Zoo also informed that the liquid left behind the animal informs other pandas about the marker’s sex, age, fertility and among other things. Red pandas also have scent glands between their foot pads, which they use to mark their territory. With the help of these glands, the animal produces a colorless liquid that humans cannot smell.

Primarily an herbivore, this endangered animal does know how to check if it has entered another red panda’s territory. As the caption informed that when a red panda comes across a new scent mark, it tests the odour with its tongue. The underside of a red panda’s tongue has a cone-like structure where it can collect liquid and deliver it to a gland inside the mouth. The gland inside the mouth then interprets the scent. The red panda happens to be the only carnivore that has this feature, mentioned the caption.

Are you impressed by this skillful animal?

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first published:September 22, 2021, 20:10 IST