There are many panda lovers around the world, all fancy about their cute looks, slow moves, and eat-sleep-play lifestyle. But do you know where do they live? What kind of bamboos do they like? How big and heavy they can get? … Here at Giant Panda Stuff, we give you the top 30 fun and interesting facts about pandas you don’t know, and they will make your day.
1. Pandas have been living on earth for 2-3 million years.
Fossils of pandas have been dated back to 2 million years old. But there are only around 2000 giant pandas in the world, 400 in captivity in panda centers, and wildlife parks, therefore giant pandas are an easily endangered animal that we should all protect jointly.
2. The giant panda is member of the bear family, not cat or raccoon
The Chinese name for giant panda is “daxiongmao”, meaning “big bear cat”. After years of research, scientists have proved that it is a member of the bear family. It was once thought they might be of the raccoon family. The scientific name of the giant panda is “Ailuropoda Melanoleuca” which means “black and white cat-foot”.
3. The panda is considered a “National Treasure” by the people of China.
Although once giant pandas were spread in China, Vietnam, and Myanmar. Now they are only found living in a small area in Southwestern China. All pandas in the world are on loan from China. Zoos outside of China must lease the animals from the Chinese government. This money is used for the preservation of the wild Giant Pandas.
4. Although a carnivore, bamboo counts for 99% of Giant Panda’s diet.
These magnificent big panda bears are carnivores, but they really love bamboos! They eat from 25 to 40 pounds per day. In spring this number can even max to 100 pounds. Panda eats bamboo partly because they have no umami taste receptors, so meat tastes bland to them; another possible reason is that they cannot run fast, not easy to catch prey.
They will occasionally eat fish and small animals, pandas in captivity also get milk, eggs, and specially made nutritious bun.
5. A panda poops more than 20 kg a day
Pandas keep regular poops. They can poop up to 40 times a day, as much as 28 kg. Traditionally in ancient China, their poop is collected to make paper, because much of the bamboo that a giant panda eats is not digested. The bamboo fibers make the poop a good source for traditional papermaking.
6. Pandas spend 55% of its lifetime on bamboo
Giant pandas spend a lot of their day eating. They spend 10-16 hours a day collecting, preparing and eating bamboo. Although the time they spend on feeding bamboo is long, they can peel and eat a bamboo shoot quick, in about 40 seconds.
7. Pandas have their type of bamboos.
Pandas need at least 2 different bamboo species in their range to avoid starvation. There are about 164 different types of bamboo in Southwest China and pandas live on about 25 different kinds in the mountains. They especially like an umbrella, arrow, and golden bamboos.
8. Giant pandas are certainly larger than you think
Adult giant pandas can grow to 5 feet (1.5 m) long, and weigh up to300 pounds (135 kg). What we see from pictures on the internet, they all look cute and adorable, but don’t forget that they are really big “cat bears”. Males are about 10% larger than females. Giant pandas are far bigger than teddy bears.
9. Female pandas are fertile only up to 3 days a year.
Giant Pandas tend to have a low reproductive rate. Female pandas ovulate only once a year, and they are fertile only two or three days. These two or three days are all they have for panda’s entire mating process. Once they have mated, females chase the males out of their territory and raise their cubs on their own.
10. Females give birth to one or two cubs a time.
Female pandas give birth to one or two cubs every two years. If twins are born, usually only the stronger one survives in the wild. It is thought that the mother cannot produce enough milk for two cubs since she does not store fat eating mainly bamboo. Cubs stay with their mothers for about two years before adventuring on their own. For pandas in captivity, usually, the other twin is hand-raised and swapped regularly with the mother so she can raise two cubs.
11. Most pandas are Virgo.
Pandas are usually born in August or September, as a result of panda’s mating months in March to May and gestation for 3 to 5 months. This is the only season that you get to see newborn cubs. Come and check out our panda volunteering program if you want to participate in baby panda observation at China panda bases!
12. Black-and-white giant pandas give birth to cubs in pink
A newborn cub has pink skin, a thin coat of white fur and blind. The iconic black and white color start to develop about one to three weeks after birth, and they only open their eyes between five to seven weeks. The eyespots of a cub are initially light like a circle; as it grows, the circle becomes gradually like a teardrop.
13. The size of a cub is only similar to a pencil.
Newborn cubs weigh 4 to 8 ounces and are about 6 to 8 inches long, In size, cubs are about 100 times smaller compared to their mothers. It is almost the smallest mammal newborn relative to its mother’s size. When a baby panda grows to the size similar to a human newborn, it’s almost 2 months old.
14. Cubs are well protected in the first month
Cubs are taken good care of by the mother when they are born. Mother pandas hold the cub to her chest as a human does. They keep contact with the cub nearly 100% of the time in the first month, using her pay, arm and head to make the cover and walking cradle for the cub.
15. Panda families don’t live together.
Giant pandas are solitary and enjoy being alone. Each female having a well-defined range. One giant panda usually needs between 2.5 to 4 square miles (10 million m2) of land to survive. Males and females only meeting briefly to mate (March to May). Then females raise the cubs alone. Recent research, however, suggests that giant pandas occasionally meet outside of the mating season.
16. Panda knows where and who just by the smell
Giant pandas have a weak sense of sight but a very good sense of smell. They can know their paths and find the best bamboo stalks by scent, even at night. In the wild, giant Pandas use scent to mark its home region, keep away from others’ living paths, and also use it to locate a mate during the mating period.
17. Male pandas handstand to wee.
Male pandas do a handstand while peeing to mark trees. By climbing a tree backward with hindfeet to a full handstand, they can leave the scent higher up.
18. The giant panda is the slowest walking bear
Unlike other members of the bear family, giant pandas are slow-moving and barely move faster than a slow walk, and they appear clumsy in the movement. The fastest bear is the black bear, which can run 35 miles per hour. That’s about as fast as a horse or deer.
19. Giant pandas are pigeon-toed
Giant pandas walk with their front paws turned inward, looking clumsily cuter than they already are.
They have plantigrade feet, which means their entire feet (toes and heel) touches the ground when walking, similar to the way humans do. Differently, we see many other animals, such as dogs and cats walk with their weight on toes.
20. Pandas have 6 toes to grasp bamboo.
The front paws of a giant panda are different from other bears. Giant pandas have a special bone in their wrists, like a sixth “toe” on the heels of their fore-paws, which is an opposable thumb. Giant pandas use it to grasp and maneuver bamboo more easily.
21. Pandas do not hibernate
Unlike most other bears or other animals, pandas do not hibernate during winter. In winter, they head lower down mountains for warmer temperatures where there’s still enough bamboo. One reason is that they mostly eat bamboo and their bamboo diet does not allow them to build up enough fat reserves for the hibernation.
22. Giant pandas do not only climb trees but also swim across rivers.
You may know that giant panda is good at climbing trees, they start to learn climbing from about 5 months old by practicing climbing on their mum’s body. Surprisingly, pandas are also good at swimming. They can swim in mountain streams and rivers. They enjoy life in the mountains in their habitat.
23. Giant panda keepers role play to look after cubs
Panda researchers have to wear panda costumes to work with cubs, especially when a giant panda gives birth to a twin. Researchers need to take care of one cub when the mother panda is looking after another.
24. You can only recognize the gender of adult giant pandas
Male and female pandas all look the same. Unlike other animals, their genitals are hidden and it’s only possible to distinguish when they grow up to adults.
The ratio between male and female pandas are 1:1.
25. Pandas have one of the highest bite forces of any carnivore.
Pandas are cute and cuddly, but it remains the powerful strength of a carnivore. In fact, giant pandas’ jaw and cheek muscles are so powerful that they can easily chew an aluminum plate into pieces. They can easily bite through a thick bamboo stalk. Humans have trouble cutting the same stalk with an ax.
26. Giant pandas have four life stages
They grow from neonates (0–365 days) to juveniles (12- 18 months), to subadults (19 months-4.5 years), and to adults (over 4.5 years).
27. Giant pandas live up to 30 years.
The life span of giant pandas in the wild is approximately 20 years, but those in captivity may live up to 30 years.
30. Giant pandas keep a continuous molting
To keep warm in winter and cool in summer, giant pandas undergo molting. But unlike other animals experiencing sharp “seasonal molting”, giant panda cannot afford so much energy for a seasonal molting because of its bamboo diet. They take continuous molting to maintain stable energy consumption.
29. Giant pandas do not use facial expressions to communicate
This is very different from other bears of the family. When one panda wants to threaten another, it stares at its opponent with its head down. Researchers believe a panda may do that so that its black ears will look like another pair of eyes against the white fur of its neck.
30. Giant pandas make 11 kinds of sounds
The most often heard words panda cubs say are “Gee-Gee” (I’m hungry), “Wow-Wow” (Not happy!) or “Coo-Coo” (Nice!). As they grow, cubs learn more how to express by roaring, barking, shouting, squeaking, bleating and chirping.
Pandas can be as gentle as a lamb when they are “in love”. Male pandas baa all the time and females respond with a constant warble.
Panda researchers have counted 11 different panda calls—and four of them are used only when searching for a mate.
Want to hear these fascinating sounds and calls of giant pandas? Sign up for the specially designed panda lover tour in panda’s hometown in China: panda volunteering programs.