Giant panda cubs Long Zai and Ting Zai play at the Chimelong Safari Park in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province, Jan. 29, 2019. (Xinhua/Liu Dawei)
Black-and-white pelted, fluffy and adorable, the giant panda is undoubtedly the world's favorite bear. As a symbol of cuteness, the image of a panda is almost always associated with bamboo. So how much of the plant do pandas consume every day? And what parts are their favorite? Here is a closer look at the panda's life-long relationship with bamboo.
An adult panda can spend around 14 hours eating every day. About 99 percent of its food consists of bamboo, but because of the lack of nutrients in the plant, pandas need to consume a huge amount of it in order to acquire sufficient energy.
How much bamboo can an adult panda eat per day?
According to studies, an adult panda can consume 40 kilograms of bamboo shoots, 17 kilograms of bamboo poles, or 14 kilograms of tender branches and leaves.
Pandas absorb starch from bamboos, but since bamboos store starch in various parts in different seasons, the pandas would also prefer different parts of the bamboo due to seasonal change. In spring and summer, the pandas would primarily feed on bamboo shoots, while in winter and autumn, they consume more poles, branches, and leaves.
How does a panda eat a big bamboo pole?
Pandas spend a lot of time tearing a big bamboo pole apart. They would select the tender bamboo and break it into small pieces with their specially-enameled teeth which are resistant from crunching bamboos. They are also highly skilled in peeling the shells of bamboo shoots.
Where do all the bamboos go?
Because of the large amount of fiber in bamboos cannot be absorbed by pandas, they would be excreted very soon. A panda's excrement can reach 20 kilograms, and the majority of its excrement is undigested branches or leaves.