When you think about where do giant pandas sleep, your first thought is probably “in trees”. It’s true that the bamboo-eating creatures spend a great deal of their lives up in the trees. But they also sleep on the forest floor and even on rocks. In captivity, zoos build their panda enclosures to look as close as possible to a panda’s natural habitat.
Pandas are solitary animals and, except for the short breeding season in spring and summer, spend most of their time looking for food and sleeping. They do not live in dens, but instead shelter under trees, stumps, and cliffs. They can lower their heads and shade their faces with front paws to conceal their presence from predators. In the wild, male and female pandas generally avoid each other, and a female bear will raise her cubs alone.
Like many herbivores, pandas have a digestive tract that’s more similar to that of carnivores, and they have to eat a lot of bamboo to get the nutrients they need. As a result, much of the plant matter passes through their system without being digested and passed out of their bodies as waste.
Giant pandas are able to climb so high in the trees that they can rest comfortably for long periods of time. They can do this because their muscles are strong and flexible, their claws have a specialized metacarpal bone to help them grip the bamboo stems, and they have a ring of skin around each eye that provides additional protection against the sun.