On the outside, the panda looks like a bear. But the main difference between the big panda and the bear is the unusual coloring and the presence of a tail.
The panda's coloration is unique. The big panda has black ears, paws and shoulders, black spots near the eyes, while the rest of the fur is completely white. Therefore, the panda is also called a spotted bear.
The panda looks huge, has a massive body, thick fur, short broad paws with strong claws and a fairly long tail. Its paws are well suited for climbing trees.
The panda's head is massive and has large ears. Also, pandas have very powerful jaws with large teeth, which allows them to easily chew even the toughest plant stems. With all these combinations, the panda animal looks very cute and resembles a big teddy bear.
The panda's body length can reach from 120 to 180 cm. The average length is 160 cm. Height at the withers ranges from 65-85 cm. The tail length is 10-12 cm. The weight of adults ranges from 70 to 125 kg, but can reach 150 kg. Males are mostly larger than females.
The spotted panda bear has unusual front paws with six toes. This paw structure allows it to handle young and thin plant shoots. The soles have pads that help hold smooth tree stems.
Where does the big panda live?
The big panda lives in the mountainous regions of central China, the forests of Tibet and Sichuan province. This is the only place on the planet where pandas live in their natural environment. The panda lives in dense, impenetrable bamboo forests, at an altitude of 1.5 to 4.5 km. This is the main habitat of the great panda.
The natural conditions of the area where the big panda lives have a pronounced change of seasons.
But the panda's dense fur protects it from extreme weather conditions. During significant bad weather, pandas sometimes take shelter in hollow trees, rock crevices and caves.
Bamboo thickets in which the great panda lives reach a height of 3-4 meters and provide the spotted bear with reliable shelter and food.
Pandas lead a very secretive lifestyle. They mostly keep to themselves, except during the breeding and rearing seasons. Each panda has its own territory and protects it.
Pandas are terrestrial animals, but are also good climbers and capable of swimming. During cold weather, pandas are passive. Pandas do not hibernate in winter, unlike other bears.
On isolated occasions, a panda bear may attack humans. Pandas only show aggression if they are teased or there is a threat to their offspring. Due to the panda's heightened cautiousness and secretive lifestyle, it is very rare for humans to encounter it in the wild.
The big panda's paws are well adapted and help it climb high into trees. The panda climbs trees for a variety of purposes. To look around, to play, to rest, and to lie on the branches.
The animal is an excellent tree climber and climbs even in the most inaccessible places. The panda seems clumsy, but it is not. Its joints are very flexible and allow it to perform various gymnastic tricks.
Pandas are usually silent animals, prefer silence and are very cautious. But they can make unusual noises during the mating season and during social interactions.
Life expectancy of the great panda in the wild is on average 16-20 years.
What do pandas eat?
Pandas eat bamboo stems and leaves. This is their main and favorite food. That's why the big panda is called the bamboo bear.
When eating, the panda holds a bamboo stem in its paw using its sixth finger. It is actually an outgrowth on one of the paw bones. Pandas can use it to hold objects in their paw, successfully climb trees, grasp branches, and perform other actions that are uncharacteristic of ordinary bears.
This paw adaptation allows them to handle flexible bamboo stems with ease and dexterity. When eating, pandas adopt an upright posture with their front paws free, which helps them manage their food better.
Pandas are carnivorous animals, but they only eat bamboo. An adult panda eats up to 35 kilograms of bamboo and shoots per day. The panda's gullet and stomach are adapted to protect itself from bamboo splinters.
After eating, pandas go to sleep and wake up hungry again. Because food is poor and monotonous, it is difficult to digest. That's why pandas have to chew most of their waking hours, up to 14 hours a day.
Pandas conserve their energy reserves. Because of this, they travel little and only when nearby food resources are depleted.
Pandas are also known to eat eggs, small birds, small animals, and some insects, even though pandas love bamboo. Animal food is a source of protein, essential for pandas.
Pandas also like to drink icy fresh water from mountain streams and rivers. Although large pandas get much of their water from bamboo, they need more water. That's why the bamboo panda bear comes to its favorite springs every day.