With its striking black and white coat, the panda is loved by people worldwide


With its striking black and white coat, the panda is loved by people worldwide and revered as a national treasure in China.


Pandas are found primarily in temperate woods in the southwest Chinese mountains, where they eat only bamboo.


A panda's size at birth is roughly equal to a stick of butter, or about 1/900th the size of its mother. As adults, female pandas can weigh up to 90kg, while male pandas can weigh up to 136kg.


Pandas are frequently seen rolling, somersaulting, and taking a dust bath. They can easily stand on their hind legs. Due to their likeness to bears, pandas are likely capable of swimming despite their relatively ungainly climbing abilities.


panda in a tree

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Mating and Social Behaviour

The giant panda's reliance on its sense of smell emphasises how alone it is. Each animal limits its activity to an area of 4 to 6 square kilometres (1.5 to 2.3 square miles), but these home ranges frequently overlap significantly. In this setup, scent controls how individuals come into contact with one another. To leave olfactory messages for other pandas, a sizable smell gland that surrounds the anus and is situated immediately below the tail is used. The marking individual's scent communicates information about identification, sex, and possibly social standing as the gland is rubbed against trees, rocks, and patches of grass. It is consistent with a difference in function for males and females based on chemical analysis of markings. While females primarily use scent to indicate the estrus (on heat) cycle, males appear to use it to identify the locations where they inhabit.


The only time pandas interact socially is during the females' estrus process, which lasts one to three days yearly throughout the spring. The only other interaction is limited to mothers caring for their young. Both wild and captive populations exhibit a spring mating season (March-May) and a fall birth season (August–September). Males seem to use scent to find females first, followed by vocalisations. There have been records of groups with one to five males for every female. Males may exhibit extreme aggression at this time as they compete for the chance to mate.


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Newborns

The infant panda has a thin, all-white coat but is blind. Due to its limited ability to suckle and vocalise, it is essentially helpless. It depends on its mother to be warm, eat, be placed at the breast, and help the wastes move along. The early months of development are slow. At around 45 days, the eyes open, and at 75–80 days, the first clumsy steps are taken. Due to its helplessness, it must birth in a den, where it spends the first 100–120 days of its life. The baby can easily eat bamboo when they are 14 months old, when their milk teeth have come in, and they are weaned from their mothers between the ages of 18 and 24 months. A female cannot start producing her next litter unless she is cut off from the mother.



Eating Habits

The giant panda's teeth, jaws, and forepaws have been modified to allow it to consume bamboo. However, because it still has a carnivore digestive system, it cannot digest cellulose, which is a crucial component of bamboo. Pandas circumvent this issue by regularly passing enormous amounts of grass through their systems at a quick rate. Feeding can take up to 16 hours out of 24 hours, while waste elimination can happen up to 50 times daily. According to fossilised teeth remnants, the giant panda committed to using bamboo as its primary food source at least three million years ago. Although they cannot hunt, pandas have a taste for meat, which is used as bait to capture them for radio-collaring and occasionally causes them to become a nuisance in human camps. The species cannot exist natively outside of bamboo woods, but in captivity, they have been fed cereal, milk, and fruits and vegetables from the garden. The healthiest diet for pandas in captivity is bamboo.


Depending on what portion of the bamboo they are consuming, they need to consume anything from 12 to 38 kg of it each day. Their larger wrist bones, which serve as opposable thumbs, are used.


Threats

The panda's significant habitat is in China's Yangtze Basin. Panda populations are becoming increasingly isolated and fragmented due to infrastructure development (such as dams, roads, and railroads), making it difficult for pandas to locate fresh bamboo forests and suitable mates.


Forest destruction has diminished the pandas' access to the bamboo they require for survival. The Chinese government has established more than 50 panda reserves, but only about 67 per cent of the wild panda population resides there, with just 54 per cent of their habitat protected.


 

Source:

www.worldwildlife.org/species/giant-panda

www.britannica.com/animal/giant-panda