Why Are Pandas So Clumsy Or Dopey? (6 Surpising Reasons Why!)

Pandas are widely considered to be among the cutest members of the animal kingdom. However, they are not the most elegant animals.

We see them crashing and rolling on the ground all the time. So, you might ask: “why are pandas so clumsy or dopey?”

Pandas are mostly considered clumsy or dopey because they don’t get enough energy from bamboo. Another reason is that they keep falling. For pandas, falling is a part of their typical behavior. 

Scientists have understood that it is due to their short limbs and playful nature that they fall so much, and hence that clumsiness. 

Let’s discuss in detail how and why they behave that way! Continue reading below.

Reason #1:  Bamboo

A picture of bamboos showing why pandas are so clumsy or dopey

Pandas are clumsy or dopey because their main diet consists of 99% of bamboo. Bamboo is low in calories and nutrients. 

Eating bamboo results in low energy levels in giant pandas. This is because their bodies convert bamboo into energy at a very slow rate

As a result, the energy stored in bamboo is not consumed by pandas properly, which makes them dopey. 

Moreover, pandas are not able to digest bamboo fully as they have the digestive system of carnivores. 

Their digestive system is more suitable for digesting meat. 

Therefore, a panda mostly remains inactive the whole day.

By remaining inactive, pandas are able to save the little amount of energy they get from their bamboo-rich diet. 

Reason #2: Short Limbs

The body shape is a factor that leads to its clumsiness. Pandas are fairly spherical animals, and they also have relatively short limbs in comparison to other mammals.

Because of their round bodies and short limbs, they are prone to losing their balance and rolling over.

Their arm muscles are significantly stronger than their leg muscles. It is because they spend most of their day climbing and lazing around. When they do move, they are unable to put as much weight on their legs as we would expect them to.  That might be the reason for falling.

Since they are somewhat asymmetrical, it should not come as much of a surprise that they are clumsy.

Reason #3: Playfulness

Another reason why pandas are clumsy is because of their playfulness. They tend to enjoy playing in mud and snow which makes them clumsy. 

However, people enjoy watching these lovely huge bears having a good time. That’s why videos of pandas falling or rolling are so popular on the internet.

You can also see them doing somersaults. 

However, scientists from Zoo Atlanta and the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding have discovered that this behavior is actually a kind of play for pandas.

Falling and rolling are totally natural behaviors for pandas. When taking care of the baby pandas, the mother and the baby both fall now and then.

This activity, which scientists believe contributes to the cubs’ growth, happens even when they are with their mothers.

Pandas have a reputation for being skilled climbers, even when it comes to scaling trees. According to the National Zoo, these creatures engage in a style of play in which they climb and then fall off of things as a way of having fun.

This type of play is seen as being extremely adorable and silly at the same time.

Playful is often the most appropriate adjective to use in situations when clumsiness is more commonly used. 

Hence, pandas’ playful quality makes them clumsy.

However, have you thought of their laziness?

Reason #4: Laziness

A picture of a lazy panda showing how laziness is a factor of clumsy and dopey panda

Pandas are very well known for their laziness. They do not move much. And even though they move, they move very slowly.

So, due to their inactive nature, they tend to fall now and then.

They are inactive on a physical level! They spend their days eating and sleeping and exhibit very little interest in sexual activity. 

Some essential body parts are already off to a slow start, and this does nothing to help their cause.

When we take into account how sleepy and lazy these bears are, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that their energy levels can only manage a limited amount of excitement.

Reason #5: Eyesight

Pandas have poor distance vision. Their poor eyesight is another factor contributing to their clumsiness.

In the wild, they don’t require extremely far-reaching vision because living in bamboo makes it impossible for anyone to see very far. 

It’s possible that this is one of the reasons why they appear to be muddling around in the dark; after all, that’s exactly what they are doing (even when it’s bright)!

Reason #6: Athletic behavior

It may come as a surprise, but pandas occasionally engage in athletic behaviors like somersaulting and wrestling in order to break the ice.

Visitors to the zoo may mistakenly believe that the bears are just being cute and clumsy pandas because of behavior such as this.

When the panda’s mating season arrives, he actually sets down his bamboo to participate in social engagement.

He goes through some warm-up activities that might appear clumsy to people around them. 

However, even though pandas are clumsy, they are good at performing the following activities:

Why do pandas fall over so much?

It is mainly due to their body shape, small limbs, and playful behavior that they fall over so much.

Pandas are well known for their rolling, climbing, and falling. But most of the time they do it for fun. They play with their mates and fall now and then.

If you notice, their legs are very small compared to their body. Hence, their leg muscles are not that strong. That is why sometimes they fail to keep balance and fall.

However, they are also very lazy. Sometimes we see them sleeping on trees and then suddenly falling down. 

RECOMMENDED READING: Why Do Giant Pandas Roll Around?

How do pandas fall and not get hurt?

The fluffy pandas aren’t physically damaged when they fall on the ground. However, the pandas may feel a small shame because of their inability to hold on.

The majority of the time, a panda that has fallen will get back up and continue on its route. They have a tendency to roll over and continue with their business as usual.

We want to imagine that pandas don’t get hurt when they fall, because if they did, we would expect them to stop doing it.

When they fall from a great height, giant pandas won’t experience nearly as much pain as other animals would because of their excess body fat.

However, it’s more of an ego problem for them rather than a concern about the discomfort. To clarify, the question is whether or not they will lose their “panda face.”

After being knocked to the floor, a panda will typically roll over onto its back, lie still for a moment, and then slowly open and close its eyes as it looks around.

When the panda believes that no one is observing its embarrassing slip, it will run to a corner where people hardly ever look. 

It will then come out of the corner in a proud manner, acting as if nothing embarrassing had ever happened.


To sum up, the panda certainly is not the most graceful species in the entire animal realm but this cute black and white creature never fails to amuse us with its clumsiness.

Now, scientists have figured out several reasons behind their clumsy behavior:

  •  Their clumsy behavior is natural.
  • Climbing, rolling, and falling are a part of their playing.
  • Due to their small limbs, their muscles are not that strong. That is why they fall very few times.
  • Also, their eyesight is not very strong. Hence they cannot see very clearly and due to that, they fall.

The videos of pandas rolling and falling are very famous all over the internet. We always watch them climbing trees, rolling from the top, and playing.

Although it might make them appear clumsy, we cannot deny that they are adorable. 

Want to learn more about the behavior of giant pandas? Don’t miss out on giving this article a read Why Are Giant Pandas So Dumb?