BBC - Earth - Giant pandas' guts not suited to bamboo
Pandas have found a way to survive on only bamboo. a meat eater's digestive system, with a simple stomach and a short small intestine. Giant pandas are famous for their diet of bamboo, a giant, fast-growing form of grass with over 1, species. But how that low energy diet shapes how much. A panda's daily diet consists almost entirely of the leaves, stems and shoots of Bamboo contains very little nutritional value so pandas must eat kg every.
The tracking collars revealed that during mating season in the spring, pandas fed on young wood bamboo shoots, which are rich in nitrogen and phosphorous. In June, the wood bamboo shoots had matured and contained fewer nutrients, so pandas migrated to higher elevations and started eating young arrow bamboo shoots.
How pandas survive on their bamboo-only diet | Science | AAAS
This dietary juggling act appears to affect panda reproductionthe team reports online this month in Functional Ecology. The authors speculate that panda embryos continue development only after there is sufficient calcium in the diet. In August, females return to the lower elevations and deliver tiny, pink panda babies. The adult mothers start eating young wood bamboo leaves, which have sufficient nutrients, including the calcium necessary for lactation.
Pandas have the shortest gestation period among bears, about 2 to 3 months compared with 6 months in other species.
They also have the smallest offspring—newborns weigh just 90 to grams, whereas other bear cubs are a more brawny to grams. Their small size could be due to the nutrient limitations of their habitat, the authors say. But even nutritional juggling may not allow pandas to survive the winter.
The Bamboo Root of the Problem: Giant Panda Eating Patterns | HowStuffWorks
The answer simply is no. This is not to say that pandas are conscientious objectors to the practice of eating meat. Just as you won't find pandas in the wild feasting on flesh, you won't find them carrying signs and protesting a tiger's deer feast. Giant pandas will occasionally eat meat when offered it, but they are unskilled predators.
Perhaps evolution favored pandas that relied on bamboo because the grass is available year-round. For whatever reason, after thousands of years eating it, they've grown a liking for bamboo, so much so that they prefer it to pre-killed meat and other foods.
This preference is unfortunate for many reasons. Because pandas have short digestive tracts and lack special bacteria and protozoans that herbivores use to break down cellulose, pandas garner a dismal amount of nutrition from bamboo.Plant Bamboo in Minecraft, Help Real-Life Pandas!
Carnivores typically extract 60 to 90 percent of the energy from a meal, while giant pandas get about 20 percent from bamboo on a good day [source: To accumulate enough energy to get through the day, giant pandas eat an enormous amount of bamboo -- about 40 pounds 18 kilograms per day [source: Not that the panda's day is incredibly strenuous, as most of it 12 to 16 hours is spent eating. Add that to 8 to 12 hours of sleep to conserve energy, and you've got an animal that eats to have enough energy to eat.
One might think hibernation would be a great way for the giant panda to conserve energy.