Pandas are amazing and very interesting creatures! Unlike a lot of animals, the Giant Panda has lived in the forest for several million years. They are highly specialised creatures with unique adaptations.
Here are our top facts you probably didn’t know about Pandas!
- Pandas have an extra digit on their paws
Pandas have 6 digits on each paw! The extra digit helps the panda tear the bamboo, they can peel a bamboo shoot in around 40 seconds. Their gut and throat are covered with a thick layer of mucus to protect against splinters.
- Were pandas once white all over?
According to a Chinese legend, the panda was once an all-white bear. When a small girl tried to save a panda cub from being attacked by a leopard, the leopard killed the girl instead. Pandas came to her funeral wearing armbands of black ashes. As they wiped their eyes, hugged each other, and covered the ears, they smudged the black ashes over their bodies and this is how they got their black patches.
- Female pandas are only fertile for 3 days a year!
One of the reasons it’s so hard for pandas to breed is that there is such a short timeframe for the females to become pregnant. The female ovulates once a year and has 2-3 days for that egg to be fertilized or they have to wait another year until they can try again! Another reason it’s so hard to get pandas to breed is that they are very lazy bears. A panda’s entire mating process takes only about two or three days. Once they have mated, females chase the males out of their territory and raise their cubs on their own.
- Panda cubs don’t stay with their mothers for long
When panda cubs are born they are the size of a stick of butter. A cub has pink skin, a thin coat of white fur, a long tail, and no teeth. By the end of the first month, the baby panda has all of its spots. A panda cub is almost 2 months old before it is the size of an average human newborn baby. The cub stays with its mother for up to 3 years until it is independent enough to venture out on its own, which means that a wild panda may raise only three or four cubs in a lifetime.
- Pandas eat bamboo but their digestive systems are designed for meat!
A wild panda’s diet is 99% Bamboo and the other 1% is a mixture of grasses and the occasional small rodent. Pandas absorb only 20%-30 % of bamboo nutrients. Other plant-eaters such as deer absorb around 80%. This means the panda has to eat most of the time it is awake to get enough nutrients to survive. In zoos, pandas eat bamboo, sugar cane, rice gruel, a special high-fibre biscuit, carrots, apples and sweet potatoes.
- Pandas get most of their water from bamboo
Wild pandas get most of the water they need from bamboo and grasses (New bamboo shoots are about 90% water). But pandas need more water than what bamboo can provide on its own. So the pandas drink fresh water from rivers and streams that are fed by melting snowfall on top of the mountains.
- Pandas spend about ⅔ of their day eating
There are around 20 different species of bamboo that pandas will eat. However bamboo doesn’t contain enough nutrients, which means the pandas have to consume up to 20kg every day. Due to this, Pandas spends around ⅔ of their day eating.
- Pandas have extremely strong jaws
A panda’s face gets its shape from its massive cheek muscles. In fact, a giant panda’s jaw and cheek muscles are more powerful than what you would expect. Believe it or not, a panda could easily chew an aluminium dish into tiny pieces. They can also easily bite through a thick bamboo stalk. We have trouble cutting the same stalks with axes!
- Adult Pandas don’t have many natural enemies
Thanks to their size, pandas do not have many natural enemies. However, animals such as snow leopards and jackals will prey on vulnerable panda cubs or old, sick adult pandas. The main enemy to pandas are poachers who hunt them for their fur to sell on the black market.
- Pandas Cannot Do Kung-Fu 🙁
Sadly pandas aren’t really kung fu masters, but they are very flexible. They like to wrestle and roll around. They can even do somersaults. Baby pandas are very clumsy too! They often trip, fall and roll over while exploring their surroundings. so they’re not so great at kung fu!
How many of these facts did you already know? Did you learn anything new? Let us know on twitter @MyPandaLife_UK