Behavioral adaptations that giant pandas exhibit due to their diet include moving slowly to conserve energy and spending most of their time feeding. Additionally, instead of hibernating like other bear species, pandas move to lower, warmer altitudes in winter.
In the wild, up to 99 percent of the diet of giant pandas consists of bamboo. Because bamboo is low in nutrition, energy and protein, pandas must spend 10 to 16 hours consuming 20 to 40 pounds of bamboo shoots every day. This frequent eating causes them to defecate 30 to 40 times daily. Because foraging in bamboo forests consumes so much of their time, giant pandas do little else other than rest. Except during mating season, pandas usually live alone. They sit upright on the forest floor, grasp bamboo with the help of large wrist bones that function as opposing thumbs, and crush the bamboo with their strong jaws and teeth. Because of their lower metabolic rate due to their bamboo diet, pandas limit their energy output by avoiding overly steep terrain and moving slowly and methodically.
Because pandas inhabit higher altitudes in the spring and summer and move to warmer valleys in the winter, they benefit from the nutrition of two types of bamboo. At higher elevations, the bamboo is richer in protein, while in the valleys, the bamboo contains more calcium.