What Are Some Fun Facts About Pandas?

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Pandas, which do not hibernate, are more closely related to raccoons than bears. Although they can eat meat, they live mostly on plants and primarily eat the shoots and leaves of bamboo found growing in their habitat. They typically feed on between 28 and 44 pounds of plants over a 12 to 16 hour a day.

Because the giant panda feeds so heavily on bamboo, its stomach has evolved to digest the fibrous plant. Not only is it lined in special muscles to aid in digestion, but it is also coated in a mucus that protects the tissue from harsh bamboo wood. One reason that pandas ingest so much bamboo is that is has very few nutrients. Other parts of the panda have evolved because of its bamboo-centric diet such as its front paws. It has an extra finger, called a pseudo-thumb, that helps the panda to remove leaves from the plant in order to eat. Its large molars and strong jaw help to grind and break down the woody stems.

The panda is a solitary animal that roams over a territory of nearly 2 square miles, marking it with a waxy scent. It only joins other pandas during mating season, after which time the pandas go their own ways. The female gives birth between 100 and 180 days after mating. The new cub weighs less than 5 ounces and stays with its mother for 18 months.