Pandas are large members of the bear family. They are one of the most easily recognized species of bear due to their distinctive black and white coloring. Pandas live mostly in China and Nepal but there are many in zoos and wildlife reserves all over the world. There are only three species of panda in the world. These are the Giant Panda (which is the panda we are most familiar with), the Qinling Panda (which is a subspecies of the Giant Panda and is dark brown and light brown in color) and the Red Panda (which is a panda by name only and is not related to the Giant Panda but is actually part of the raccoon family).
What Do Pandas Eat?
All species of panda, Giant, Qinling and Red, eat predominately bamboo with about 99% of their diet being made up of different bamboo species. Pandas eat all part of the bamboo including the leaves, stems and shoots. It is believed that they eat different species and part of the bamboo to get proper nutrition from it. Pandas must eat large amount of bamboo each day as it has a low nutritional value. Pandas are also unable to digest effectively the cellulose in bamboo meaning that they must eat between 20-40 pounds (12-38 kg) to meet their energy needs. Pandas will eat for anywhere between 11 and 16 hours a day to sustain them. 1% of a Pandas diet is also made up of other plants and meats such as fish, pika, small rodents and insects. They will also eat fruit, berries, roots, grasses and honey.
What Do Pandas Eat in Captivity?
Even though their favorite food is still bamboo, in captivity pandas are fed a wider variety of foods. Most pandas in captivity will eat sugar cane, rice gruel, carrots, apples and sweet potatoes. They are also fed special biscuits that provide them with minerals and nutrients. However even in this environment pandas still eat large amounts of bamboo each day.