Why Do Pandas Eat Bamboo?

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Pandas eat bamboo because they have evolved to do so. Experts believe pandas eat bamboo because pandas are unskilled hunters that prefer bamboo due to the fact that it is readily available year-round. After thousands of years eating bamboo, pandas have developed a liking for it and prefer it to meat.

Experts agree that pandas are the descendants of carnivores with a digestive track fit for digesting meat, however pandas simply prefer bamboo. This is not to say that pandas never eat meat. According to How It Works, pandas eat meat occasionally when it is offered. The World Wide Fund for Nature or WWF, states that pandas sometimes hunt for pikas and rodents. According to the WWF, however, only 1 percent of the panda’s diet comes from meat and plants other than bamboo.

Another reason why it is curious that pandas eat bamboo is because bamboo does not digest well. Pandas lack the digestive enzymes and bacteria needed to digest the cellulose prevalent in bamboo and other plant matter, and as a result, pandas absorb few nutrients from bamboo. Since pandas are only able to absorb about 20 percent of its nutrients from a bamboo meal, they must eat large amounts to garner enough nutrients. According to the WWF, pandas must eat approximately 12 to 38 kilograms of bamboo every day to absorb the nutrients they need. For these reasons, experts believe evolution must have favored pandas that ate bamboo instead of meat. In other words, the bamboo-eating pandas survived.