Do Giant Pandas Migrate? (Yes – Here’s Why)

We are aware that most wild animals migrate to different places depending on season or time. The main reason why animals migrate is for their survival. 

That being said, do giant pandas migrate?

The quick answer is yes. Giant pandas migrate just like most wild animals. They usually move from the highlands or the lowlands of the mountains depending on the season.

Now that you know giant pandas do migrate, have you ever wondered why they migrate? Was it just a habit or a matter of survival?

Well, the good thing is I have researched the answers for you. Let the learning begin!

Why Do Giant Pandas Migrate?

giant panda migrate in the wild
Photo Source: WWF

Giant pandas migrate to look for bamboo and to adjust to the temperature. Both are important factors for them to survive in the wild.

They basically move from a bamboo forest to another one to search for new and fresh bamboo. As we already know, giant pandas are bamboo eaters.

Therefore, they need to eat a lot of bamboo in order to survive.

Well, this is not surprising because 99% of their diet is made of bamboo.

If you want to know the reason behind why giant pandas spend a lot of time eating, then click this link.

Well, another is their adjustment to their habitat temperature.

Giant pandas move to lower elevation during winter (to fight cold), while they move to a higher elevation during summer (to fight heat).

When Do Giant Pandas Migrate?

giant panda migrate in the winter and summer

Just like what was mentioned, they migrate during the winter and the summer seasons. 

Since giant pandas are endemic or they only exist naturally in China, they follow the seasons here.

From December to February, winter happens in China. This is when giant pandas move to the low elevation of the mountains to adapt to the cold season.

On the other hand, from June to August, summer happens in China. This is when giant pandas move to the higher elevations of the mountains to deal with the hot season.

Where Do Giant Pandas Migrate?

giant pandas migrate in min and qin mountains
Photo Source: ResearchGate

They migrate from a bamboo forest to another bamboo forest within the Min and Qin mountain ranges of Central China.

Unlike other animals that move from one country to another, giant pandas basically roam around the same mountains where they live.

As mentioned before, they move to the highlands of the mountains in the summer and move to the lowlands in the winter.

The Min or Minshan mountain range is located in Sichuan and Gansu provinces. On the other hand, the Qin or Qinling mountain range is located in Shaanxi province. 

Both mountain ranges are located in Central China (where giant pandas are endemic).

Here is a good article that explains where giant pandas live and why they exist in this place.

How Far Do Pandas Migrate?

Giant pandas usually migrate at a distance of 2.46 to 4.35 miles (4 to 7 km). However, there are times where they reach 6.21 miles (10 km).

They travel this distance to find bamboo forests. This is where they can satisfy their appetite as they eat big amounts of bamboo every day.

Moreover, it would be from 4,000 to 11,000 feet – if we are talking about the elevations of the mountains that they reach.

Most of the time, they move to 4,000 feet elevation in the lower part of mountains to adjust to the cold during the winter season. 

On the other hand, they reach as high as 11,000 feet elevation in the higher part of the mountains to adjust to the heat during the summer.


In this article, you learned that giant pandas do migrate. They move at high or low elevations of the mountain depending on the season.

Furthermore, the migration of the giant pandas also helps them survive in the wild. This allows them to find food and adjust to seasonal temperature changes.

Animals like giant pandas migrate from one habitat to another in order to survive. If we look at it, they have the same instinct as we do.

Thus, if we know that our survival is at risk we move. The same is true for many other animals in the wild.

Here are some articles that you may find interesting:

1. If giant pandas are bears, do they hibernate during the winter season?

2. Bamboo is the 99% food source of giant pandas. What about the remaining 1%?

3. Where will you go if you want to enjoy giant panda viewing?

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