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Giant Pandas Characteristics and Appearance

Giant pandas are one of the cutest animals in the world. They have a distinctive black and white appearance. They are good climbers and can also swim. They don't build dens like other bears (except to put cubs in) or hibernate. Want to learn more about the giant panda's characteristics? Read on…

giant panda characteristics

Giant Pandas' Appearance — the Black and White Look

Distinctively Black and White

Giant Panda, Chengdu

Giant pandas have a distinctive appearance. Their thick black and white fur equips them for life in cool forests. 

Their white coat with black markings is unique, with black patches round the eyes and ears, black legs, and a black band around the shoulders. And they have cute white tails.

They Have "Cat-Like" Pupils — For Seeing Well at Night

They have good geographical memory, hearing, and sense of smell, but their sight is poor. However, they have cat-like pupils, so they can still see adequately to move around at night.

Giant Pandas Have Strong Teeth

Giant pandas start to grow permanent teeth as they gradually draw to 7 months old. Their back teeth are about seven times the size of a human's, with a wide surface area. The powerful jaw bones and strong teeth of giant pandas help them crush and grind bamboo.

Their Paws Have Six "Fingers"!

Giant pandas' paws have five "fingers" facing forward and one "thumb" — an enlarged bone at the heel of the paw used for gripping bamboo, climbing trees, etc.

How Tall and Heavy are Giant Pandas?

Giant panda, Chengdu giant panda breeding center

Grown pandas are about 75 cm (2½ ft) tall and 1.5 meters (5 ft) long (see the diagram showing a man and a giant panda). They weigh up to 150 kg (330 lb) in captivity. Females are smaller, weighing up to 125 kg (275 lb) in captivity.

  • Body length: 120–180cm (47–71")
  • Shoulder height: 54–81cm (21–32")
  • Hip height: 52–77cm (20–30")
  • Chest girth: 70–106cm (28–42")
  • Hind leg length: 12–20cm (5–8")
  • Tail length: 10–20cm (4–8")
  • Wild giant panda weight: 60–110 kg (132–243 lb)
  • Captive giant panda weight: 80–150 kg (176––330 lb)
  • Life expectancy in the wild: 20 years
  • Life expectancy in captivity: 30+ years (oldest recorded 36 years)

What Do Pandas Eat? — a 99% Bamboo Diet

Giant panda eating bamboo Bamboos are the main food of giant pandas.

Bamboo is the favorite food of giant pandas, which accounts for 99% of their diet. The bamboos consumed by giant pandas in their current habitats are classified into 40 kinds in 9 genera.

Wild giant pandas hunt small animals such as mice once in a while. To ensure ample nutrition, giant pandas in captivity are also fed fruits and well-selected feeds, which are made from corn, soybean, wheat, etc.

What Do Pandas Do Every Day? — Eat and Sleep

When you visit a zoo you will likely find that the pandas are sleeping. Actually it spends half its day eating and the other half sleeping. You may see them lying flat, on one side, on their stomach; forelegs stretched out, or huddled up. While they are sleeping, they still look very cute. 

See Giant Pandas with China Highlights 

The giant pandas' habitat is in western central China, and the pandas are known as a "national treasure". Travelers come to the panda research bases to see the cute pandas and to take pictures with them. What's more, travelers can experience a volunteer program to take care of them. 

If you are interested in a panda tour, we can help you tailor-make your own unique tour. If you have no idea, please see our popular tours below for inspirations:

take a picture with a giant pandaOne of our clients having her picture taken with a lovely giant panda.

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