13 Panda Facts That Will Make You Love Them Even More
Because who doesn’t want to know more about the most adorable animals on the planet?
Pandas have huge growth spurts
Pandas grow from tiny to massive in a few short years. Pink, blind, and hairless, panda infants weigh just three to five ounces and have been compared in size to a stick of butter. But within a year, pandas tip the scales at around 100 pounds; fully mature pandas can be up to six feet long and reach 350 pounds.
Pandas eat a lot of bamboo
We can’t talk about panda facts without mentioning their love of bamboo. Giant pandas are technically carnivores, but their diets consist nearly exclusively of bamboo. Because the plant lacks much nutritional value, pandas eat up to 85 pounds of bamboo a day to maintain their energy levels and can scarf down a shoot in about 40 seconds.
Pandas have six fingers on each paw
Unlike other members of the bear family that have little or no dexterity in their paws, pandas have opposable “thumbs,” along with five other fingers, that help them hold bamboo and remove the plant’s stems and leaves before eating.
Pandas are native to China
These cuddly creatures are found in central China, specifically in Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu provinces. According to the panda facts from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, they once lived in lowlands but had to relocate to bamboo forests in the mountains because of farming and forest clearing.
Pandas can be dangerous
Sure, panda facts are usually light-hearted and fun but don’t be misled by the cute faces and cuddly-looking fur. These bears could not only crush you with their heavy bodies, but they also have very strong teeth and jaw muscles that they use to crush tough bamboo.
Pandas don’t hibernate
Pandas don’t settle down for a winter slumber like most other bears. Instead, they head down the mountains where they live to find warmer temperatures.
Pandas love their naps
Instead of sleeping through the night, wild pandas take naps after eating that last two to four hours. In the summertime, they can nap for six or more hours. They don’t care about the position they sleep in, either. They can snooze on their backs, sides, or bellies; curled up in a ball; or all sprawled out.
Pandas value alone time
Adult pandas don’t spend much time interacting with each other, and they’re generally quiet animals. However, they do occasionally communicate through scent marks, squeaking, barking, growling, or huffing.
Pandas play an important role in their habitat
Pandas love all the bamboo available in their forest homes, but they also have a crucial role in the forest’s ecosystem by spreading seeds that encourage vegetation growth. This helps ensure the forests’ other residents, like multicolored pheasants, blue dwarf sheep, and the endangered golden monkey, also have a suitable home.
We may finally know why pandas are black and white
For years, scientists speculated as to why panda fur is colored the way it is. One belief was that it helped them camouflage in forests of bamboo and in the snow, and another suggested that it helped them maintain appropriate body temperature since black absorbs heat and white reflects it. But in 2017, a study shown that the camouflage theory is in fact correct, stating that the white fur helps the animal hide in snowy habitats while the black fur is used for camouflage and communication.
Some pandas don’t know how to have sex
Giant pandas may be unknowingly contributing to their place on the endangered species list. Female pandas are able to mate only two or three days per year, and some males don’t know how to do the deed.
The United States pays big bucks to rent pandas from China
Zoos in just four U.S. cities—Atlanta, Washington, DC, San Diego, and Memphis—house giant pandas, and they pay a hefty rental fee to the Chinese government. According to the New York Times, American zoos generally pay $1 million a year in fees as part of a typical ten-year contract.
Pandas may soon be endangered
Rounding off our panda facts is this sad reality. Although they don’t have many natural predators, there are only about 1,800 pandas left in the wild.