Adult giant pandas eat 25–35 pounds of bamboo daily. Bamboo is eaten for 12 hours a day. Most of their time is spent sleeping. Bamboo comprises 99 percent of a big panda's diet.
Bamboo provides giant pandas with carbs, fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Pandas must eat a lot of plants to gain necessary nutrients, especially amino acids for protein.
Giant pandas consume different bamboos year-round. Research shows these bears switch between two bamboo species at various heights. They start spring with fragile bamboo shoots from lower elevations.
Then they walk up to see another bamboo variety's shoots. They eat calcium-rich higher elevation bamboo leaves in July. They return to lower elevations in August, where leaves contain calcium and other minerals for breastfeeding moms.
Bamboo was the most plentiful food source at a time of food scarcity and species pressure. Hard and fibrous bamboo demands a lot of energy to eat. The plant is very difficult for giant pandas to metabolize.
They digest a little portion of food. Prey hunting is energy-intensive. Pandas may have faced a bigger hazard to survival searching for rare food than consuming the plentiful bamboo. Those that adapted and got enough bamboo survived and reproduced.
Because few animals eat bamboo, giant pandas may have stuck with it. This stiff and fibrous shrub is also eaten by the red panda, Ailurus fulgens, a distant cousin of the giant panda.
But gigantic pandas have little competition from red pandas. If giant pandas' bamboo forests are protected, red pandas can also acquire enough of this plant to grow.