5 Reasons Giant Pandas Can’t Get Enough Bamboo

Ailuropoda melanoleuca, the giant panda, is limited to living in the bamboo forests of central China. Millions of years ago, these bears evolved to specialize on eating bamboo. Giant pandas do not have digestive systems that are effective in processing bamboo, despite the fact that they have evolved some physiological adaptations for the diet. For survival, they must eat enormous volumes of bamboo every day. Find out why enormous pandas can’t get enough bamboo by reading on.

Giant Pandas Need Huge Amounts of Bamboo for Nutrients

Every day, adult giant pandas eat between 25 and 35 pounds of bamboo. They eat bamboo for almost twelve hours every day. The majority of the remaining time is spent sleeping. Bamboo makes up over 99 percent of a huge panda’s diet. Giant pandas can get all the nutrition they require from bamboo, including fiber, protein, carbs, and vitamins and minerals. However, pandas need to eat enormous amounts of the plants in order to receive enough of these nutrients, especially the essential amino acids needed to form proteins.

Different Types of Bamboo Have Different Nutrients

Throughout the year, giant pandas do not consume the same kind of bamboo. These bears are known to alternate between at least two distinct species of bamboo that grow at varying elevations. They start consuming fragile bamboo shoots found at lower elevations in the spring. Then, just in time for the shoots of a different kind of bamboo to appear, they relocate to higher altitudes.

They eat the calcium-rich leaves of the higher altitude bamboo in the summer. By August, however, they return to lower altitudes where the abundant calcium and other nutrients in the leaves are ideal for nursing mothers. Giant pandas have a higher chance of obtaining enough bamboo to meet their dietary needs if they alternate between sites.

For pandas, bamboo is the most abundant food source.

They probably did so because, during a period of scarcity and pressure on many species, bamboo was the most plentiful food supply. Because bamboo is a tough and fibrous plant, eating it demands a lot of energy. Even giant pandas have trouble digesting the plant.

They barely process a small portion of their food completely. But it takes a lot of energy to hunt for prey. Pandas may have faced a bigger threat to their survival in the past than just consuming the plentiful bamboo that grew all around them when they went searching for rare food. Those that succeeded in adapting and obtaining sufficient bamboo for survival procreated and prospered.

Few Other Animals Eat Bamboo

Few other animals eat bamboo, thus giant pandas have most likely continued to eat only that over time. One species that likewise eats predominantly this fibrous and tough plant is the red panda, Ailurus fulgens, although it is not a close related of the giant panda. But gigantic pandas have little competition from red pandas. Red pandas that share the same habitat as giant pandas can obtain enough of this essential plant to survive as long as conservation efforts preserve the bamboo woods where giant pandas reside.

Giant Pandas Do Not Have Guts Adapted to a Bamboo Diet

Due to their dietary preference for bamboo, giant pandas have developed powerful jaws, enormous molars, and a wrist bone that resembles a thumb. They still possess a bear’s digestive tract, which is designed for either a carnivorous or omnivorous diet. The majority of animals with digestive systems built for processing that kind of food are pandas, and they consume the same high-fiber, plant-based diet.

For example, the multichambered stomachs of cows and other ruminants enable them to get as much nourishment as possible from each bite of grass or hay. Additionally, the majority of herbivores have a gut biome that is home to bacteria that aid in the digestion of fibrous, tough vegetation.

Notwithstanding, giant pandas lack both of these characteristics. Rather, their digestive system is identical to that of other bears. They have a small intestine that is comparatively short and a basic stomach, and their gut flora is not very helpful in breaking down vegetation. According to scientific estimates, humans only digest about 17% of the bamboo that they consume. This is the real reason why giant pandas are such bamboo fiends.