Do Red Pandas Eat Bamboo? (A Complete Beginner’s Guide!)

Eating bamboo helps the giant pandas to survive. This is because they contain enough nutrients for the giant panda’s health.

Since the giant pandas eat bamboo, can red pandas also eat them?

Here’s your answer!

Yes, red pandas eat bamboo. Bamboo is their major source of nutrients and energy.

The red pandas are classified as voracious bamboo eaters. This is because bamboo makes up a large percentage of their daily diet.

This trait is one of the major characteristics that the red pandas share with the giant pandas. The giant pandas tend to feed on all parts of the bamboo trees such as the leaf, and shoots.

It’s now clear that red pandas eat bamboo like giant pandas, but what type of bamboo do the red pandas normally eat?

Continue reading to find out!

Table of Contents

Types of bamboo Red pandas eat

Here is a list of the types of bamboo the red pandas usually feed on.

1. Arrow bamboo (Pseudosasa japonica)

Arrow bamboo - Food of Red Pandas
CTRO: Peter Richardson

Just like the name suggests, the arrow bamboo is usually used to create Samurai arrows from stiff canes. This type of bamboo is not scattered all over the red panda habitat.

It is found in special areas such as Japan, and South Korea. Most red pandas enjoy feeding on arrow bamboo.

2. Stone bamboo (Phyllostachys nude)

CTRO: Bamboo Garden Nursery

This specie of bamboo is quite resilient. It has very high altitudes of more than 2.5 meters (250cm). Stone bamboo can mostly be seen in both wet, and dry seasons.

In the dry season, the stone bamboo does not wither because it can resist extreme weather conditions.

As a result, you tend to find red pandas feeding on them in all seasons.

In addition, the stone bamboo could serve as a source of shade or protection from predators.

3. Yellow groove bamboo (Phyllostachys Aureosuicata)

Yellow groove bamboo (Phyllostachys Aureosuicata) - Food for red pandas

A study on the yellow groove bamboo confirmed that it is by far the red panda’s favorite bamboo. It is usually found growing in China.

It has a fast growth in China, as it grows to a height of 10 m. However, the yellow groove bamboo can be found across Europe, where it is 4m. Here, it is mostly planted as a garden leaf.

4. Bisset bamboo (Phyllostachys bissetii)

Bisset bamboo (Phyllostachys bissetii) - Food for red pandas

This is relatively one of the most popular bamboos in Europe. The best bamboo was named after David Bisset, an American botanist.

Although the bisset bamboo is popular in Europe, it is not a native Europe plant. Its native origin is in China and Sichuan. Here, the bamboo stalk usually serves as support to bars.

Interestingly, the bisset bamboo is leafy enough for the pandas to have their fill while feeding.

Parts of Bamboo red pandas eat

Unlike the giant pandas, the red pandas do not eat every part of the bamboo tree. They usually select the parts edible to them and leave the rest.

Let’s discuss each of them:

1. Red Pandas Eat Bamboo Stalk

All red pandas love to feed on the bamboo stalk. This is usually the first place they start with when eating.

When they get a hold of the bamboo, they remove them from the step using their sharp teeth. After this, they start feeding on them.

2. Red Pandas Eat Bamboo Leaves

The next possible place the red pandas feed is the leaves. Most times, the bamboo leaves are soft, leafy, and easily edible. A good example of a leafy bamboo that the red pandas love to feed on is the Bisset bamboo.

Why do Red Pandas Need Bamboo?

1. Pandas need bamboo to survive

Primarily, the red pandas need bamboo to survive. In fact, 95% of their diet depends on bamboo shoots and leaves.

Red pandas need to eat at least 20% of their body weight. This is equal to 2-4 lbs (1-2 kg) of bamboo every day!

Based on findings, a female panda can eat around 20,000 bamboo leaves per day! On the other hand, a pregnant red panda can even eat up to 200,000.

Check out: Do Red Pandas Have A False Thumb?

2. Pandas need bamboo for energy

The red pandas usually find it hard to digest bamboo. They are only able to digest 24% of bamboo.

For this reason, they tend to consume about 2-4 pounds of bamboo every day. This way, eating large portions of bamboo gives them the needed strength to carry on for the day.

3. Pandas need bamboo for nutrients

The red pandas love to feed on bamboo because it gives them nutrients. No doubt, nutrients are very important aspects of the red panda’s diet.

Red pandas get nitrogen and phosphorus from eating bamboo.

Nitrogen in the body of the red pandas is necessary for protein. This is an important component of their body.

While phosphorus helps them to make their teeth stronger. It also allows them to build up their bones.

Check out: What Do Red Pandas Like To Eat

What Percent of Red Pandas Diet is Bamboo?

Bamboo makes up 95% of the red panda’s diet. This is because they love to eat to feed on large amounts of bamboo.

Since they cannot digest every bamboo they feed on, they tend to feed on large amounts of bamboo. This way, they still have enough bamboo to survive.

The red pandas have different bamboo-eating habits that are different from the giant pandas. The giant pandas love to eat almost every upper part of the bamboo tree.

These include – bamboo stem and culm.

However, the red pandas are most likely to feed on tender bamboo stalks, and leaf tips. These parts are the most nutritious and healthy parts of the bamboo tree.

How often do Red Pandas Eat Bamboo?

The red pandas eat bamboo often as much as 2-4 pounds daily. This frequent intake of bamboo shoot, stalk, and tips contribute to the red panda’s body weight.

Bamboo makes up 20-30% of the red panda’s body weight. Apart from bamboo, the red panda also feeds on bird eggs, fruits, and insects.

Check out: What Can Red Pandas Do?


In summary, red pandas eat bamboo. They love to eat bamboo so they can have energy and survive.

They usually love to feed on bamboo stalks and leaves. This is different than the giant pandas that feed on almost all parts of the bamboo.

In addition, red pandas feed on arrow bamboo, stone bamboo, Bisset, and yellow groove bamboo. So far, the yellow groove bamboo is the red panda’s favorite.

You can find a red panda eating about 2-4 pounds of bamboo every day. This makes up about 20-30% of their body weight!

If red pandas mostly eat bamboo, what food do you think giant pandas eat? Click here to learn more!