Giant Pandas Legends Habitat Diet Breeding Conservation

Diet

Apart from bamboo, giant pandas are known to eat small amounts of fish, bamboo rats and berries in the wild.

More than 99% of a giant panda's diet is made up of bamboo and they can eat over 20kg of bamboo every day. That's the equivalent of eating 100 bowls of rice a day!

Like humans, giant pandas do have their food preferences. They like variety and can eat up to 25 types of bamboos. They also prefer their bamboo fresh and moist.

Giant pandas have short digestive systems that are usually found in carnivores like the rest of the bear family. However, they choose to eat bamboo instead. The most likely explanation for this is due to the loss of their original food source, which forced them to survive on whatever food they could find. Bamboo is the only food available all year round in their natural habitats in China, and this could be the reason these bears evolved to become bamboo lovers, not out of choice but of necessity.

With its tough fibre, bamboo is actually a hard plant to digest. Bamboo plants are so tough that it is almost impossible for a person to break it with his or her bare hands. Because of this, pandas have huge and strong molar teeth, powerful jaws and jaw muscles to crush the bamboo into softer bits. Giant pandas also have muscular and thick-walled stomachs to handle the tough fibres.

Ultimately, pandas only absorb about 20% of their food, with undigested bamboo fibre being passed out. This means that Kai Kai and Jia Jia poop as often as 50 times every day, producing 10 to 20 kg of poop each! As bamboo has little nutritional value, this also explains why Kai Kai and Jia Jia need to eat so much to obtain the nutrients that they require.

In preparation for Kai Kai and Jia Jia's arrival, the horticulture department at Wildlife Reserves Singapore has been planting and nurturing four different species of bamboo, three of which are native to the homeland of the giant pandas. Some of the bamboo delicacies that Kai Kai and Jia Jia will enjoy include Buddha's belly (Bambusa ventricosa), Ougon-Kou Chiku bamboo (Phyllostachys sulphurea), Hedge bamboo (Bambusa glaucescens) as well as Siamese bamboo (Thyrsostachys siamensis) from Myanmar and Thailand. In addition, Kai Kai and Jia Jia will also be fed fruits, vegetables and high-fibre biscuit treats.