This endangered species is one of the most well-known and well-loved in the world.

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Food and Feeding

Although they belong to the order “carnivora” the panda is primarily a herbivore, eating a diet made up mainly of bamboo leaves and shoots.  Pandas will also eat berries, fruit, fungi, grasses, small mammals, birds, eggs and fish.  Despite its diet being almost wholly bamboo, the panda still has the digestive system of a carnivore, so bamboo is a poor source of food, providing very little protein. Pandas have to eat up to 45kg of it every day, a process that takes them up to 16 hours. Feeding goes on day and night, with the pandas in a constant cycle of eating for eight hours and sleeping for four. Pandas also have to go to the toilet up to 40 times a day to get rid of all the excess waste!

As the panda's digestive system is poorly adapted to its diet of bamboo, they only digest the equivalent of one hour's worth of food every day. The rest of the nutrients are lost. Pandas are too slow to catch most live prey. Each species of bamboo flowers, dies and regenerates at the same time of year, so a panda has to have at least two different species available at any time, in order to be able to eat all year round.  Although they can eat other foods, pandas appear to prefer to starve rather than change their diet when bamboo becomes scarce, so it could be said that they are contributing to their own destruction.

Photo: Annieo76

 

Read More: Breeding

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