10 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Pandas!

Last updated on July 25th, 2023 at 10:46 am

Pandas are amazing and very interesting creatures! Unlike many animals, the Giant Panda has lived in the forest for several million years. They are highly specialised creatures with unique adaptations.

Here are the top panda facts you didn’t know about!


1. Pandas have an extra digit on their paws


Pandas have six digits on each paw! The extra digit is the opposable “thumb” which is actually a modified wrist bone on the front paws called the “sesamoid bone”. This “thumb” helps Pandas to grasp and tear the bamboo. They can peel a bamboo shoot in around 40 seconds. Their gut and throat are covered with thick mucus to protect against splinters.

2. 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 their ears, they smudged the black ashes over their bodies; this is how they got their black patches.

3. Female pandas are only fertile for three 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 must wait another year until they can try again! Another reason it’s so hard to get pandas to breed is that they are 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.

4. 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 two 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.

5. Pandas eat bamboo, but their digestive systems are designed for meat!


Although they are best known for their diet of bamboo, pandas are actually omnivores and will eat meat if they can find it. A wild panda’s diet is 99% Bamboo, and the other 1% is a mixture of grasses and the occasional small rodent. Pandas have a digestive system that is adapted to digest bamboo. They have a special bacteria in their gut that helps break down the tough cellulose in bamboo. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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, so the pandas have to consume up to 20kg daily. Due to this, Pandas spend around ⅔ of their day eating.

8. 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 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!

9. Pandas are an endangered species


Due to habitat loss and poaching, pandas are considered an endangered species. The current wild panda population is estimated to be around 1,800 individuals.

10. Pandas are often used as symbols of conservation


Pandas are one of the most recognizable symbols of conservation efforts worldwide. They are often used in advertising and other materials to promote conservation and environmental protection.

How many of these panda facts you didn’t know? Did you learn anything new? Let us know on Twitter @PandaLife_UK

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How many species of pandas are there?

Last updated on July 25th, 2023 at 10:46 am

There are two species of pandas: the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) and the red panda (Ailurus fulgens). While they share similar names, they are not closely related.

Where do giant pandas live in the wild?

Last updated on July 25th, 2023 at 10:46 am

Giant pandas are native to the mountainous regions of central China, primarily in Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces. They inhabit dense bamboo forests at high elevations.

Are pandas carnivores or herbivores?

Last updated on July 25th, 2023 at 10:46 am

Pandas are primarily herbivores. Their diet consists almost entirely of bamboo, although they have the digestive system of a carnivore.

How much bamboo does a panda eat in a day?

Last updated on July 25th, 2023 at 10:46 am

Pandas can eat up to 40 pounds (18 kilograms) of bamboo daily. They spend a significant portion of their day foraging and eating to meet their dietary needs.

How long do pandas live in the wild?

Last updated on July 25th, 2023 at 10:46 am

In the wild, pandas have an average lifespan of around 20 years. However, with proper care and protection, pandas in captivity can live well into their 30s or even early 40s.

How do pandas communicate with each other?

Last updated on July 25th, 2023 at 10:46 am

Pandas communicate through various vocalizations, including bleats, honks, and growls. They also use scent marking and body language to convey messages to other pandas.