Why Do Giant Pandas Have Black Eyes (5 Main Reasons Why!)

Have you ever noticed those black patches around a panda’s eyes? While some people just ignore it, you may be wondering if there’s any science behind this. 

So why do giant pandas exactly have black patches around their eyes? 

Let’s take a look at 5 unique reasons why!

1. To Make Up For Their Bad Eyesight

Their eyes have black patches circled around them to help them see better when exposed to the sun. 

This shows that the panda’s black eye patches serve as a blocker of light. In effect, they can see their surroundings better.

Researchers found that the combination of their white facial hair and black markings around their eyes helps balanced out the sun’s exposure. 

2. To Provide Camouflage

For safety and protection, giant pandas have this distinct pattern that helps them in hiding from other predators.

The black eye patches in a panda (or anywhere) in their body can help in keeping them hidden during the night or in the shade when danger is present.

On the other hand, the white reflects more light altering the vision of the predator.

RECOMMENDED READING: Do Giant Pandas Have Spots or Stripes?

3. To Communicate And Be Distinguished

two giant pandas communicating

Just like with what you have, fingerprints make you unique. For pandas, it is their black eye patches that do it for them.

Those black circles or patches in the eyes of the Panda can mean something to their fellow animals. 

This signals that they come in peace and not in any other way.

The patches in their eyes serve as a form of unique recognition and socialization tool for their group of fellow pandas. 

Even their cub can remember this unique patch of older pandas for more than a year!


One way of getting a panda to recognize their fellow Panda is through its black eye patches.

Studies show that the heavy-colored dark markings are more recognizable to fellow peers in the wild.

To them, this only means that they are part of the group and not something that may harm or endanger them. It communicates friendship to their fellow species in the wild.

5. To Regulate Body Temperature

In addition, these patches help regulate a good amount of body heat, especially in cold areas. Giant pandas travel for food or hibernate during the cold seasons. 

Scientists also discovered they have hormone imbalances on their thyroid that correlate to how they are receptive to heat.

Thankfully, these patches help them cope with this hormonal imbalance. 

Now, they keep themselves warm and comfy while traveling in extreme temperatures!

6. Aggressive Signaling

Scientists have suggested that black eye patches can actually be a tool for aggressiveness.

For example, other creatures may think that panda bears do not just lounge around and keep calm; That they can be aggressive and ferocious especially when provoked. 

Researchers have also noted that the black markings around their eyes get darker or thicker when faced with stress or anger. 

What Is Panda’s Eye Color?

Black. As mentioned in the beginning, the majority of the panda species have black eye colors. 

Some say that they appear to be dark brown, which may have been the cause of how light is reflected in them.

Why Are Panda’s Eyes Different?

Panda’s eyes are different because the pupils are not round like most beings but it is in slits like a cat.

If you look closely at its eyes, you can discover that it is pretty similar to the cat family. 

The purpose of having the slit-like eyes or pupils in pandas is to compensate for their poor eyesight. This allows them to have excellent night vision for gathering bamboo shoots at night.

In addition, it also allows only enough amount of light required to absorb through their eye’s pupils. As a result, it makes a balanced view of their sightings and dispersion of light and shadows.

Is There A Panda Without Black Patches Around Its Eyes?

Yes – the Red Panda.

Red pandas have white markings on their faces and black arms and legs. Also, their bodies have a rusty, orange-red hue in color for fur.

Red Pandas has no black markings on their face

If you see a giant panda with no black patches in its eyes, it may be because of a condition caused by hair loss in the eye area.

The hair loss around the eyes causes the black markings or patches to fade away. 

They have not had a concrete result in their research as to what this condition is, but they know that it is caused by mites.

Final Thoughts

In this article, we learned that the black patches around a panda’s eye are not just for aesthetics. Here are the main purpose of these patches: 

  • Better eyesight
  • Communication and distinction
  • Regulating body and facial heat
  • Camouflage
  • Protection due to aggressive signaling

Giant pandas are really interesting creatures. They have unique body parts and playful behavior too!

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