Giant pandas are some of the most adorable animals in the world, not to mention baby pandas (i.e. panda cubs).
Below are 10 interesting facts about baby pandas, some of which you definitely won't have heard before.
1. What is a newborn panda's size?
All pandas are born very small. The average weight is 100 grams (0.2 pounds), which is only 1/900 of their mother's weight (compared to about 1/20 for human babies).
The lightest one on record was only 36 grams (0.1 pounds) and the heaviest one was 210 grams (0.5 pounds).
2. Why are baby pandas so tiny?
Baby pandas are "premature". Due to pandas' special physiological structure, the embryo will "wander" in the mother panda's womb for three months after conception so that it is unable to be implanted.
This leads to delayed development in their mother's womb (development lasts only one and a half to two months) and the inability to absorb adequate nutrients for what would normally be considered full development by the end of a typical gestation of five months.
According to expert Dr Wang Dajun, the tiny birth size is "definitely a result of evolution over millions of years … It is a kind of breeding strategy." He explained that pandas subsist almost entirely on bamboo, and, "It is easier for the animal to convert bamboo into milk than to convert bamboo into animal tissue." Hence shorter gestation and longer nursing.
3. What color is a newborn panda?
Newborn giant pandas are pink and furless. The iconic black and white coloring comes later, after about 3 weeks.
4. How long is a panda pregnant for?
The mating season is in spring between March and May. Males and females usually associate for no more than 2 to 4 days. Pregnancy lasts from 95 to 160 days.
5. When are baby pandas born?
July to September is the period during which mother pandas give birth.
March to May is the "falling in love" period for pandas. A baby panda stays in its mother's uterus for just 3 to 5 months.
6. How baby pandas grow up?
A baby panda's growing process is interesting, but very difficult, because they are extremely fragile and can easily get sick and die. At breeding centers 90% of baby pandas survive nowadays, compared to no more than 30% in the 1960s. Read on to see how baby pandas grow up:
- After 1 week: Blackish hairs start to grow on their ears and around their eyes and shoulders.
- After 1 month: Black hairs grow all over the neck and chest, and they have bigger dark circles around their eyes. At the same time, white hairs also begin to grow, which give the panda its distinctive black and white look. A month-old panda is around 2 kilograms (4 lb).
- At 6-8 weeks: They start to open their eyes and grow baby teeth.
- At 3 months: Their limbs become stronger. They can walk as far as a meter (3 feet), but staggering, and sometimes falling over. They weigh about 5–6 kilograms (11–13 lb) by this time.
- 6 months: They begin to eat bamboo.
- At 1 year: Panda cubs are weaned by the time they are one year old, and continue to live with their mothers. A one-year cub is up to 40 kg (88 lb).
- At 1 and a half year: They live alone without their mother (if the mother mates again).
- At 5–18 years: They are fertile adults.
- Over 18 years: Pandas enter old age. Few pandas live over 20 years in the wild.
- 2-Day Wolong Red Panda Volunteer Program Tour
- 4-Day Wolong In-Depth Panda Tour
- 12-day Panda Keeper and Classic Wonders
7. How are panda babies born?
Pandas give birth to young, just like other mammals. The birth of a giant panda can be quite painful. The mother panda's birth orifice is so narrow that the baby panda is ejected like a cannonball!
When a panda cub is born, its mother picks it up in her mouth and holds it in her arms.
Some giant panda mothers can't bear the pain and stop giving birth, and their cubs get stuck in their reproductive tracts and suffocate to death. It sounds crazy, but it's still happening.
8. Do panda mothers kill their babies?
No, a panda mother won't kill her baby directly. But if she has twins in the wild, she will leave the weaker one to perish and choose to raise the stronger cub. The reason for this is that they don't have sufficient milk or energy to care for two cubs.
In a panda breeding center, the staff will rotate the two babies between their mother and the incubator every few hours so that two can be raised.
9. The survival rate of baby pandas is 60% in the wild.
Why are the survival rates of infant pandas so low? Here are some reasons:
1. Cubs are very needy and vulnerable at birth. They are born furless and blind. The limbs of newborn pandas are so weak that they are not able to stand for 3 months.
For 6 months after birth, baby pandas rely entirely on the mother's warmth, milk, and protection.
2. Cubs can be accidentally crushed by their mothers.
3. Decrease in habitat can mean the mother panda has insufficient food to gestate and nurse her cub.
4. In the wild, half of all panda births are twins; however, it is very rare for both cubs to survive as panda mothers are usually only able to raise one at a time and abandon the other twin.
10. Can I hold a baby panda?
The best place to see baby pandas is Chengdu Panda Base, which is very close to the downtown area.
If you visit between late August and December, you will have a greater chance of seeing tiny newborns and cuddly babies. The Baby Panda Volunteer Program is currently suspended [October 2021].
But you can take part in one of our Giant Panda volunteer programs. During the program, you can get close to the cute pandas and make their food.
- 1-Day Dujiangyan Panda Volunteer Program Tour
- 2-Day Wolong Panda Volunteer Program Tour
- More giant panda tours
All our tours can be customized. Just Contact us. We will create a trip for your summer vacation according to your group size, time, budget, interests, and other requirements.
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