I’m always amazed on how pandas can eat big portion of bamboos everyday. I have seen them eating Bamboo shoots and grass but are they entirely herbivores or do giant pandas eat mice?
Here’s what I found out – Yes, pandas feed on mice, pika and other small rodents. This serves as a source of protein for them. The nutritional value of Bamboo is on the lower side and hence the panda can take in around 30-40kgs of Bamboo Stem per day. Thus their diet consists of both plants and small animals.
Now that you learned that Pandas eat mice, it is time to ask the question-why do pandas eat mice and other small animals? Read on to find out.
Why Do Pandas Eat Mice?
Bamboo is no doubt their primary source of food. However, just like how people consume soybeans and oats to help with the protein requirement, pandas feed on small rodents for the protein intake.
Another theory that has been discussed is the effect of habitats. In places with less Bamboo stems, pandas would have been forced to adapt. As a result, they would have diversified their food diet to include small animals like rats and mice that are quite common. Even though most people believe that the panda is a plant-eater, it is in fact classified as a carnivore. Besides, mice, pandas can also feed on other things as well.
What Other Small Animals Can Giant Pandas Eat?
Other than mice, pandas also feed on Pika. Pika is a small mammal that resembles a rodent with fur like covering. They are mainly found in mountains or hilly areas. They do not possess a tail but have small round-shaped ears that give them a rabbit-like resemblance.
Pandas that are held captive like in zoos also eat vegetables as well as fruits. In fact, it is well known that pandas enjoy apples as well as steamed bread. The food is selected carefully and goes through lots of examinations and tests before it is given to them.
What Kind Of Rodents Do Pandas Eat?
- Pandas mainly feed on rodents like mice and rats.
- Pika– another rodent they feed on is Pika. Pika is found in mountainous areas and has a small round body.
- Hamsters are also a Panda delicacy. Unlike rats, hamsters possess a slightly lighter color and are often kept as pets.
- Beaver-These are slightly larger when compared to mice and as a result are not eaten by Pandas.
- Lemming-Pandas do not eat lemmings.
- Squirrel-Squirrels are not feasted upon by Pandas.
When in captivity, Pandas are mainly fed Bamboo along with meat flesh.
Can Giant Pandas Eat Rats?
Yes, Giant Pandas do eat rats. The giant panda eats both mice and rats. However, unlike the panda there are animals who feed on mice but avoid rats and vice versa. Despite their obvious similarity, there are some little differences between a mouse and a rat. Lets see below.
What Is The Difference Between A Mice And A Rat?
The first and obvious difference is that rats grow to be much larger mice. The tail of a rat is hairless while that of the mouse is quite hairy. Another important factor is the ear. In the case of a rat, the ear is smaller while it is bigger in the case of mice. Here, the size of the ear is relative to that of the body. Also, some rats are black in color while mice have lighter colors like brown, grey, etc.
Can Red Pandas Eat Mice Or Rats?
As a matter of fact, they do. Although it looks fairly different from the giant panda, the red panda feeds mainly on bamboo stems along with small rodents. It is capable of eating upto 5 pounds of bamboo per day. This might not seem too big a quantity but it is roughly 40 percent of the weight of the panda. However, bamboo is not the only item that the red panda feeds on.
They also eat small insect eggs and rodents like rats and mice. They also have been known to feed on bird eggs and acorns as well. However, this is quite rare and most of the time they will be found chewing on Bamboo stems. Also, they feed on the fruits and grasses in the forest floor as it is an easy source of nutrition.
We can absolutely confirm without a shadow of a doubt that Pandas eat mice. In fact, they also feed on fruits and grasses found in the forest floors.
It was an amusing fact that pandas actually feed on small animals. Most people including us had the notion that pandas were the typical friendly herbivores. Even though they eat rats and mice, at zoos their diet is severely inspected and examined carefully. The same goes for red pandas as well and they share a similar diet pattern.
If you are interested to know more about Pandas, do check out our articles.