Wildlife Wednesday - Giant Pandas

 panda eating bamboo
This week we're going to talk about giant pandas. You are probably familiar with this animal and know that they are endangered, but what else do you know about them? Let's find out as we learn some panda facts!
young panda in tree

Giant Pandas live in the damp and misty forests of the mountains in central China.

There are approximately 1600 pandas left in the entire world.

Pandas are endangered due to habitat loss and their slow reproduction rate.

giant panda
Pandas have a great sense of smell. Males can use their sense of smell to help them avoid other males and find female pandas during mating season.
Male pandas are larger than females and can can weigh up to 275 pounds. Females weigh in at a maximum of 220.
Pandas do not hibernate. They move from lower to higher elevations depending on the season.
giant panda
The black and white markings of the panda are slightly different for each individual.
Scientists aren't sure why pandas have such bold coloring. Some think it helps provide camouflage while others think it might help them stand out in the forest, making it easier to spot mates.
panda
The diet of the giant panda consists almost exclusively of bamboo. They do occasionally eat small mammals.
Pandas eat 20 different types of bamboo.
Pandas have extremely strong jaws and teeth. They can rip apart stalks of bamboo a human would have trouble breaking with an ax or wood chipper.
panda eating
Giant panda may eat mostly bamboo, but they have the digestive system of a carnivore. This makes it difficult for them to digest plant matter. This means pandas need to eat 20-45 pounds of bamboo a day. Pandas spend at least half the day eating bamboo.
Pandas poop frequently, up to 50 times a day. That's one way researchers find pandas in the wild. They produce so much waste because most of the bamboo they eat isn’t digested.
pandas eating
Giant pandas are solitary except mating season and while mom raises her cubs.
The pandas breeding season is extremely short. It is just a 2-3 day period, once a year in spring.  
Panda are slow at reproducing. Females don't start breeding until age 4-5. Males don’t reach breeding age until ages 6-7. 
panda
Pandas have 1-2 cubs. In the wild, the mother panda only has the energy to take care of one cub, she'll choose the stronger of the two.

Baby pandas are blind, pink and hairless at birth. They only weigh about 5 ounces. They start to get their black  fur at about a week old.
young panda
Except for marsupials, the baby panda is the smallest mammal at birth in relation to the mother’s size. A baby panda is about 800 times smaller than the mom.

Baby panda open their eyes at 6-8 weeks and become mobile at about 3 months.

Baby pandas stay with mom for about 18 months to 3 years.
mom and baby panda
Pandas are a species of bear

Giant pandas may be the most vocal bears. They have 12 known sounds. The most distinctive is the bleat, similar to the sound you'd expect from a lamb or goat.
For more animal facts check out our other Wildlife Wednesday posts