Panda Mothers Take Good Care of Their BabiesBy
Panda mothers take very good care of their babies. As soon as a baby is born, its mother takes it in her arms like a human mother cuddling her child. The panda mother feeds the baby milk and never lets it out of her sight.
Baby pandas need this kind of protection because they are completely helpless when they are born. And there are animals in the forest that would like to eat them. (Scientists have found evidence that leopards and wild dogs eat young pandas.)
When predators try to attack a young panda, its mother may protect it by biting with her powerful jaws, as shown below. There is no doubt that panda jaws could crush bones as easily as they crush bamboo. For more about panda mothers and babies, go to www.zoobooks.com/learnmore.
Most baby pandas are born in dens. The dens are often found in hollow trees. Mother and baby are probably very snug in their den, no matter how cold it gets outside.
Chinese leopards are probably too small to stand up to an angry mother panda. A fully grown panda weighs twice as much as a leopard.
Pandas sometimes climb trees to escape from danger. When they are young and small, they can scamper up a tree in no time at all. As they grow older and heavier, it becomes harder for them to climb. But even older pandas will climb trees to find a safe place to sleep.
The powerful jaws of a mother panda can be very gentle when she holds her baby in them. Like a cat, she may pick up her baby by the neck to carry it from place to place.
By the time a young panda is seven months old, it weighs over 20 pounds. It can run and climb trees, and it has started to eat bamboo. Eleven months later, it weighs 120 pounds, and it is ready to leave its mother.
When they are born, baby pandas are tiny. Their mothers are about 900 times bigger than they are. The babies grow rapidly, as shown here. But they stay helpless for a long time. Their eyes don’t open until they are about 40 days old. They become mobile when about 3 or 4 months old.