Do pandas eat meat?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “Do pandas eat meat?” We will discuss how pandas usually find their food and why pandas like to eat bamboo. We will explain what other foods pandas feed on besides bamboo and the animals that prey on pandas. We will also talk about what baby pandas eat.

Do pandas eat meat?

Pandas are almost exclusively vegetarian feeding on leaves, stems and especially shoots of various bamboo species, their diet consists of 99 percent bamboo. However they do sometimes eat meat and hunt down pikas and other small rodents. 

How do pandas usually find their food?

Giant and red pandas have evolved to adapt to mostly rely on bamboo as their main form of diet. They have also  developed features that we can refer to as ‘thumbs’ that enable them to easily grip bamboo trees much more easily.

There are however other physiological developments that come into play into the bamboo parts that each species of panda is able to reach. The red panda for instance has weasel like teeth which are sharp enough for tearing apart bamboo shoots and leaf tips leaving just the jointed stems for the giant pandas.

The giant panda has strong teeth with the capability of doing some heavy crushing of the stems and effectively chewing them for digestion. Giant pandas are picky and tend to prioritize some bamboo species and parts of the bamboo as per the seasonal nutritional content.

The red panda however usually tends to supplement their diets with a variety of different food sources to meet their nutritional requirements. 

Why do pandas love to feed on bamboo?

As per pandas natural habitats, bamboos are well and widely distributed in their wild natural habitats. Bamboo grows and is available all year long. Bamboo is always a good source of starch and can therefore provide the pandas with the energy they require.

Bamboo is not the best source of nutrients and for that reason giant pandas have to eat a lot and I mean a lot of plant materials in a particular day. On average it is estimated that adult pandas consume anywhere between 26.5 and 84 pounds of bamboo in a day.

Giant pandas eat about 20 different types of bamboo. They eat different varieties such as water, arrow and black bamboo. They can consume different parts of the bamboo plant depending on the season and what’s available.

When it’s winter they eat the bamboo roots, shoots are in plenty during Spring and Summer seasons so they shift to them and in fall the leaves are in plenty so they consume more of the leaves.

What other foods do pandas feed on other than bamboo?

Other than bamboo, giant pandas can as well eat grasses, vines, green corn, flowers and even honey. Captive pandas are also usually fed a variety of foods such as steamed corn bread and apples. In the hot summer weather, captive pandas are usually given apples with ice so as to cool down.

When in the wild, giant pandas are known to feed on some small rodents such as pikas as earlier mentioned. Wild pandas hunt down the pikas which are small mountain rabbits, bamboo rats and other small rodents usually as the last part of their diet. Pandas are big and that makes them slow so they mostly rely  on injured and wounded animals.

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Which animals prey and feed on pandas?

Red and giant pandas have different natural habitats and as well also have different predators. The biggest predators are the snow leopards but also jackals and martens prey on red and giant pandas. 

These predators usually prey on the panda cubs. The red panda cubs are also preyed upon by some birds of prey. However, the biggest threat to pandas is actually from deforestation and human poaching.

What do baby pandas feed on?

Baby pandas usually rely and feed on their mother’s milk until they get to about 6 months old and they can start feeding on bamboo like the adults.

Pandas do not have a lot of breast milk therefore captive panda cubs are usually fed milk made with a combination of milk. Powdered milk and various vitamins to boost their nutrition.

You can read some cool and fun facts about pandas here.

Conclusion

In this brief article, we have answered the question, “Do pandas eat meat?” We have discussed how pandas usually find their food and why pandas like to eat bamboo. We have explained what other foods pandas feed on besides bamboo and the animals that prey on pandas. We have also talked about what baby pandas eat.

Citations

https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/what-do-pandas-eat-and-other-giant-panda-facts

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