What do Pandas Eat? - Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Sara Clarke-Vivier

Sara is a recently graduated PhD in Education with interdisciplinary experience in K-12 education.

Come on a food adventure through the leafy forests of China. Here we will learn about a panda's favorite food- bamboo! But pandas can't only eat bamboo-- in this lesson, we will also explore what else keeps these bears fed.

What Do Pandas Eat?

Pandas are large animals. They can grow to be 4-6 feet long and may weigh as much as 350 pounds. An animal that big needs a lot of food to survive, and pandas are very, very picky about what they will have for dinner. In fact, about 99% of a panda's diet is made up of one plant: bamboo.

A Panda Eating Bamboo Shoots
A Panda Eating Bamboo Shoots

What Is Bamboo?

Bamboo is actually a type of grass that grows in warm, moist climates like the hilly regions of central China. It is green and has hollow stems and long, narrow leaves.

Pandas eat all parts of the bamboo, including the stems, leaves, and shoots. Bamboo shoots are the young, tender bamboo plants.

Bamboo is actually one of the fastest growing plants in the world. In some places, bamboo may grow as much as three feet in one day. This is a good thing for pandas, because they eat a lot of bamboo.

A Forest of Bamboo
A Forest of Bamboo

Even though bamboo grows quickly, there isn't always enough of it for pandas. In fact, human destruction of bamboo forests is one of the reasons that pandas are endangered. When humans remove bamboo forests to create land for farming, for example, pandas are not able to find enough food to survive and reproduce.

How Much Bamboo Do Pandas Eat?

Even though pandas love bamboo, they do not get a lot of nutrition from eating it. In order to get enough of the calories and nutrients they need to survive, a panda must eat between 25 and 80 pounds per day. That's like eating more than 100 servings of broccoli in one day!

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