If you are ever taking a nice walk through the forests of China, you may come across a cute raccoon looking bear. That would be a panda bear. Panda bears are popular among people because of they look like big playful clowns. They can be found in Chinese art dating back thousands of years. They are still loved by the Chinese today. They have even set up laws to protect these cute bears.
Panda bears are a fairly large animal. The males can grow to be up to six feet tall and weigh 100 Kg. (220 lb.) Females tend to be a bit smaller. They only get to be 80 Kg. (180 lb.) Pandas do not start out very big. They are only about three to five ounces when they are born. They have the biggest ratio of birth size to adult size of any animal besides marsupials.
How do pandas get so big? It probably has to do with the fact they spend 10 to 16 hours of a day eating. Bamboo is a large part of a pandas diet. Because bamboo is low in nutrients they eat up to 80 pounds of it a day. For pandas in the wild ninety-nine percent of what they eat is bamboo. Pandas grasp bamboo stalks with their five fingers and a special wrist bone, then use their teeth to peel off the tough outer layers to reveal the soft inner tissue. Strong jaw bones and cheek muscles help pandas crush and chew the thick stalks with their flattened back teeth. Because they eat mostly plants they are considered to be a herbivore. They are capable of eating meat however. They sometimes indulge in rodents or musk deer fawns. The pandas that are found in zoos seem to enjoy sugar cane, carrots, apples and other foods eaten by humans.
When a panda bear is not eating, it is either sleeping or playing. They have it pretty nice. Any person would love to have a life like that. Panda bears tend to live alone when they are in the wild. They do sometimes get together, usually for breeding purposes. When they are together they communicate through special noises or calls and sent marks.