Pandas may look cute and cuddly, but that doesn’t mean that they will make a great addition to your home. As a vulnerable species, this native of China is protected by law; It is illegal to kill or capture pandas. However, if you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to have a pet panda, this article is for you. We will discuss two panda species, the Red Panda and the Giant Panda, before considering whether pandas are suitable as pets or not.
Red Panda vs. Giant Panda
Before we discuss whether pandas are suitable as pets or not, we must point out that there are two types of pandas! Both species hail from China and have the word panda in their names, but otherwise they couldn’t be more different.
When you hear the word panda, you probably immediately imagine the huge, adorable, black and white panda that has made the news as an endangered species. These animals are giant pandas and they are native to southwest China. Even though baby pandas are barely bigger than kittens when they are born, they do grow to be huge animals. Female giant pandas can weigh up to 200 pounds, and males will weigh up to 300 pounds.
The giant panda was designated an endangered species in 1990 and was only removed from the endangered list in 2016. Although it is no longer endangered, the giant panda is still considered vulnerable with only 1,864 remaining in the wild.
Although these interesting creatures may be called pandas, they don’t look like the famous giant panda bear. The giant panda is a member of the Ursidae, the bear family. The red panda, meanwhile, was originally classified in the same taxonomic family as the raccoon. If you’ve ever seen a red panda, you won’t find this too surprising; The red panda is very similar to the raccoon. However, the red panda is not closely related to bears, such as the giant panda, or the raccoon. Eventually, it was reclassified into its own taxonomic family, Ailuridae. These animals have no close relatives alive today; Their closest common ancestor last roamed the earth 3-4 million years ago.
The red panda’s natural habitat is mountainous areas such as the Himalayas where bamboo is abundant. Apart from China, they can be found in Myanmar, India, Tibet and Nepal. Like the giant panda, the world’s red panda population is dwindling. They are considered an endangered species. One of the main reasons for their extinction is habitat loss. Red pandas have also been hunted for their fur and trapped in the illegal pet trade.
Would Pandas Make Great Pets?
Now that you know a little more about pandas, let’s get to the question of whether or not pandas make great pets. If you’ve ever thought about trying to bring a giant panda home, chances are you won’t for a variety of reasons. The biggest reason is that you won’t be able to get it; every giant panda in the world, even the one in the zoo here in the United States, is owned by China.
As for the red panda, it is illegal to adopt this animal as a pet no matter where you live. Given that there are about 5,000 individual red pandas in the world, you’d be hard pressed to find them even if you could.
Let’s get rid of that obstacle for a moment. How does it feel to have one of these animals as a pet?
1. They can be dangerous.
Many people think that pandas are cuddly creatures, but in fact they can be very dangerous. Both the giant panda and the red panda have very sharp claws. The giant panda also has very strong jaws. Those weapons combined with their sheer size will cause you trouble if they feel threatened. Even if your panda doesn’t hurt you, it’s very likely that it will tear your house apart very quickly with its claws.
2. You will spend a lot of money on food.
In addition to the initial cost to buy a panda, you must also be prepared to pay a fee of many money for food for your panda. Giant pandas and red pandas eat bamboo, which is not available in many parts of the world—and they eat a lot of bamboo. Giant pandas need to eat about 20-40 pounds of bamboo per day. Although the red panda does not need as much food as the giant panda, it can eat bamboo up to 30 percent of its body weight every day.
The zoo supplies fresh bamboo with special concentrated pellets, but as you can imagine, they are very expensive. Zoos can spend around $100,000 a year just to feed their pandas.
3. They need a big cage.
How big is your backyard? The European Association of Zoos and Aquariums recommends an outdoor enclosure for red pandas of at least 860 square feet. They need to have constant access to indoor shelter, and they may need air conditioning in hot weather. Meanwhile, the giant panda needs about 44 square miles to roam.
4. They like to be alone.
The giant panda and red panda are solitary creatures. Unless they mate, they don’t spend much time with other animals of their own kind. They certainly wouldn’t be very happy to live in close proximity to humans. Unlike a pet dog or cat who is content to snuggle with you on the couch, a giant panda or red panda will be much happier outdoors in their natural habitat.
In conclusion, even if you could adopt a giant panda or red panda, these animals would not make very good pets. They are too dangerous, expensive, and require too much space to be positive companions for most humans. Most importantly, keeping any of these animals is illegal due to its status as a vulnerable and endangered species. One of the best ways to spend time around these animals and ensure they receive adequate care is to visit them at the nearest zoo. By supporting organizations working to protect pandas, you can help ensure this species remains for future generations.
Featured Image Credit: Pixabay