Do Giant Pandas Have Six Fingers (Solved & Explained!)

Watching Youtube videos, you might have heard them say that giant pandas have six fingers. 

And now you’re wondering –  “Is it true that giant pandas have an extra thumb?

Quick Answer – Yes! Giant pandas have an extra thumb which is a result of a protruding carpal bone that is large enough to be called a thumb. 

The extra thumb on giant pandas is referred to as a “false or pseudo thumb”. Do you know why? Because it is not an actual thumb but a wrist bone sticking out.

If you are interested to know more about this six-fingered phenomenon, then stay with me.

Let’s continue reading below!

Why Do Giant Pandas Have An Extra Thumb (Six Fingers)

The uncomfortable but useful pseudo-thumbs of pandas grew up to solve many problems for them.

Here are 2 main reasons why they have an extra thumb:

  1. To grab bamboo stems
  2. For climbing trees better

To Grab Bamboo Stems

Grabbing things is the main use of thumbs for mammals and birds that have them. 

Giant pandas’ thumbs move with the rest of their fingers in the same direction and would have a difficult time grabbing bamboo stalks without their extra thumbs.

There are no surprises, giant pandas live on Bamboo stems.

About 97 percent of their diet is bamboo. They can sit for up to eight hours eating bamboo.

It is said that bamboo stems constitute more than 90% of the giant pandas.

Giant pandas love to sit and eat bamboo so much that it is most likely that they only began using their “extra thumbs” just for holding bamboo.

For Climbing Trees Better

Don’t be fooled by their chubby appearance! Giant pandas are skillful tree climbers. 

Their weight does not prevent them from climbing trees quickly. This is because they have pointed fingernails.  This allows them to climb trees by taking grip and pressing into those branches and trunks. 

Don’t conclude their clumsiness as weakness, they are really smart and cunning animals.

What Does a Giant Panda’s Paw Look Like

Below is a picture of a Giant Panda’s controversial paw.

See that red circled part?

(Photo Copyright: Kieron Nelson)

That is the famous second thumb. That thumb is also a close example of an opposable thumb. 

The thumbs of a giant panda look like a stub right there beside their paws. It often has its road under it, like it’s part of the fingers.

You will notice that unlike any of the giant panda’s fingers, the false thumb has no claw of its own.

The false thumb just sticks out and kind of rotates on a swivel quite cleverly. These thumbs are opposite each other on the giant panda’s limbs.

In addition, these often used to hold on to the stems of bamboo – their favorite food. Furthermore, giant pandas also climb better than others in the bear family. 

So Where Is The Opposable Thumb?

The giant panda’s opposable thumb is right beside its five clawed digits. In addition, their paws look different from the paws of other bears. 

If you compare a human’s or a monkey’s hands to a panda’s, you will notice the similarity in the position of their ‘thumbs’, and also the fact that these giant furballs have two thumbs. 

Do Giant Pandas Have 2 Thumbs?

Yes, giant pandas have two thumbs, sitting opposite each other on each hand. 

One thumb is clawed and moves back and forth, while the other thumb is a false thumb that barely swivels and has neither claw nor joint. 

How Many Claws Do Giant Pandas have?

Giant pandas have five claws that stretch from their real fingers. One of these claws is on their true thumb.

These sharp and strong claws help them survive daily.

For example, a giant panda can use its claws to climb trees or hold bamboo better.

In addition, these claws act as defense mechanisms against their predators. 

Final Thoughts

In this article, we learned that giant pandas do possess an extra thumb (sixth finger) known as a false thumb. 

It is an opposable thumb that can be moved freely on its own in different directions. With the opposable thumb, pandas can grasp, hold or pick up objects better.

You can find their false thumb right beside the five-clawed digits.

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