33 Panda Facts Guaranteed To Surprise And Delight You

Published January 26, 2016
Updated January 24, 2018

From why they use Viagra to why we once drank their urine, these panda facts reveal everything you never knew about nature's most mysterious bears.

Panda Facts Newborns
Newborn cubs are blind, helpless, and only about the size of a stick of butter.Flickr (left), Flickr (right)

Panda Facts Small Newborns
At 1/900th the size of its mother, a newborn panda is one of the smallest newborns, relative to its mother's size, on Earth.Flickr

Panda Facts Size
Pandas can grow to be 2-3 feet tall at the shoulder, 4-6 feet in length, and up to 250 pounds.Flickr

Panda Diet
While most people know that pandas eat bamboo (which accounts for 99% of their diet), they're definitely not strict vegetarians...Flickr

What Pandas Eat
Wild pandas have in fact been known to eat small rodents and even musk deer fawns.Flickr

Large Molars
Whether eating small creatures or bamboo, pandas make use of the largest molars of any mammalian carnivore on earth.Flickr

Carnivore Vs Herbivore Digestion
A panda's digestive system is closer to that of a carnivore than an herbivore.Flickr

Panda Foraging And Eating
Because of its extremely inefficient digestive system, an adult panda must spend 10-16 hours per day foraging and eating.Flickr

Unique Sitting Position
Uniquely, pandas eat while sitting upright, in a position resembling the way a human would sit on a floor.Pixabay

Pandas' Pseudo Thumb
This seated position allows them to grasp bamboo, with the help of another unique adaptation, their "pseudo thumb," actually an elongated wrist bone.Flickr

Bamboo Consumption
Over the course of the 10-16 hours of eating each day, a panda will consume 20-40 pounds of bamboo.Flickr

Resting Panda
The rest of a panda's day is spent resting and sleeping.Flickr

Panda Hibernation
Although they spend so much time resting and sleeping, pandas are relatively unique among bears in that they do not hibernate.Flickr

Climbing And Swimming
And despite their largely sedentary lifestyle, pandas are skilled climbers and swimmers.Flickr

Mountain Climbing
Pandas may climb as high as 13,000 feet up into surrounding mountains in search of food.Flickr

Pliocene Epoch
The giant panda first appeared toward the end of the Pliocene epoch, between 2 and 3 million years ago.Flickr

Western Discovery Of Pandas
However, by most accounts, the Western world didn't become aware of pandas until the late 19th century.Flickr

Roosevelt's Panda Hunt
The first Westerners given the "privilege" to hunt and kill a panda were two of Theodore Roosevelt's sons, Theodore Jr. and Kermit.Flickr

Panda Urine
Some schools of traditional Eastern medicine claimed that drinking panda urine could melt accidentally swallowed needles.Flickr

Dangerous Pandas
According to the Smithsonian National Zoo, "pandas can be as dangerous as any other bear."Flickr

Panda Loners
Adult pandas are extraordinary loners, and use their keen sense of smell to avoid other pandas.Flickr

Pandas And Raccoons
Because of its numerous differences from most other bears, the panda was long thought to actually be a closer relative of the raccoon.Flickr

Panda Facts Coat
Researchers don't know for sure why pandas have their distinctive black and white coat. Some speculate that it provides camouflage in their snowy and rocky habitat.Flickr

Endangered Panda
Due to dwindling habitats, there are less than 2,000 pandas left in the wild and only about 400 in captivity.Flickr

Panda Extinction
Without human intervention, pandas will become extinct.Animal Planet/Mark Orton

Small Conception Window
Panda populations recover slowly from decreases chiefly because females are only able to conceive on two or three days per year.Flickr

Mating Assistance
Furthermore, captive pandas exhibit great reluctance to mate. Scientists have shown pandas pornography and given them Viagra to combat this problem. Wikimedia Commons

Bifengxia
Leading the fight against extinction, China's Bifengxia Panda Center has been safely breeding pandas in captivity since 2004.Flickr

Wolong Center
Even more ambitiously, China's Wolong Panda Center is breeding and raising pandas for the expressed purpose of eventually releasing them into the wild.Flickr

Body Suits
Researchers at Wolong believe that pandas will be more easily introduced into the wild and less likely to gravitate toward humans if they're not used to seeing humans in normal human clothing. Thus, all who work with pandas there must wear panda suits.Animal Planet/Mark Orton

Panda Disguises
While the adult pandas at Wolong can see through the disguises and spot the humans, the cubs, by all accounts, cannot.Animal Planet/Mark Orton

Total Population Increase
Due in large part to the efforts at Wolong and Bifengxia, the world's total panda population has increased by 17% since 2003.Flickr

Nature Reserves
This increase also comes courtesy of the 67 panda reserves now in existence throughout China.Flickr

We adore pandas. We make special trips to a small number of select zoos just to see them. They're the face of the World Wildlife Fund. But how much do we really know about them?

We know they eat bamboo, but few people are aware of the rest of their surprising (and bloody) diet. We know they're black and white, but even the scientists researching them aren't entirely sure why. We know they're endangered, but you'd be amazed at the lengths conservationists have gone to, to get them to mate (panda porn, believe it or not, is a thing).

Discover more strange-but-illuminating panda facts above.


After checking out these panda facts, have a look at some elephant facts and shark facts that are guaranteed to blow your mind.

author
John Kuroski
author
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
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Kuroski, John. "33 Panda Facts Guaranteed To Surprise And Delight You." AllThatsInteresting.com, January 26, 2016, https://allthatsinteresting.com/panda-facts. Accessed June 16, 2024.