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  5. 8 Animals That Eat Bamboo (With Pictures)

8 Animals That Eat Bamboo (With Pictures)

8 Animals That Eat Bamboo (With Pictures)

Buckle up, as we dive into the exciting world of animal diets! Just like humans, animals too have their favorite foods, and these can be divided into three main groups: the green-eating herbivores, the meat-eating carnivores, and the all-eating omnivores.

Today, our focus is on a unique bunch in the herbivore group – the bamboo eaters. Some animals chow down on bamboo all day, while others might just snack on it occasionally.

So, are you ready to meet eight incredible animals that eat bamboo as part of their menu? Let’s get started!

List of Animals That Eat Bamboo

Chimpanzees

chimpanzee sitting on green tree

  • Scientific Name: Pan troglodytes
  • Length and Height: 4 – 5.5 ft / 60 – 130 lb
  • Diet: Omnivorous

A chimp’s life revolves around the dynamic communities they form, varying in size from a small cluster of 20 individuals to impressive assemblies of up to 150 members. Their social structures are underpinned by a hierarchy of dominance, generally with males taking precedence over females, much like a page straight out of a medieval human society.

When it comes to food, chimpanzees are omnivores who delight in both plant-based and meat-based meals. Their menu reads like a smorgasbord of the forest’s offerings: from the robust bark of trees, sweet and succulent fruits, crawly insects, rustling leaves, and juicy meats, to crunchy nuts. Bamboo also makes an occasional appearance in their diet.

However, they are not ardent bamboo lovers (unlike some animals on this list). In fact, chimps primarily prefer fruit, which accounts for a significant chunk of their diet – around 60%, to be precise. So, while these primates might nibble on bamboo every now and then, they’re typically found munching on a fruity feast.

Related: What Animals Eat Strawberries?

Bamboo Lemurs

bamboo lemur lying on the ground

  • Scientific Name: Hapalemur
  • Length and Height: 10.2 – 18.1 in / 4 – 5.5 lb
  • Diet: Herbivorous

The animal kingdom’s love affair with bamboo is hardly exclusive to the pandas of China. Down in the biodiversity-rich island of Madagascar, we find an unlikely bamboo aficionado, the bamboo lemurs, also affectionately known as gentle lemurs.

An extraordinary facet of the bamboo lemur’s existence is their habitat – the dense forests where bamboo grows prolifically. And here’s where it gets even more interesting: these lemurs are practically bamboo specialists, feeding almost exclusively on this plant. 

Biologists are still puzzled about how they manage to detoxify the significant amounts of cyanide found in bamboo shoots – a feat that would leave most mammals reeling. In a day, these gentle lemurs consume around 500g of bamboo, a cyanide dosage that would prove lethal for many mammals.

Related Article: What Eats Grass?

Red Pandas

red panda climbing on tree

  • Scientific Name: Ailurus fulgens
  • Length and Height: 20 – 25 in / 6.6 to 13.8 lb
  • Diet: Herbivorous

If there’s an award for a bamboo-loving animal, the red panda would certainly be in the running. These cute creatures have an impressive bamboo leaf intake, demolishing around 20 thousand leaves per day

Contrary to what their name might suggest, red pandas don’t share a direct familial link with their more famous namesake, the giant panda. The connection, it appears, is more of a dietary coincidence rather than a bloodline tie.

While bamboo takes the cake in terms of their dietary preference, making up a whopping 90-95% of their total intake, red pandas also appreciate the other offerings of nature, such as grasses, roots, bark, and other leaves.

However, this bamboo-heavy diet means that they operate on a low-calorie budget, so to speak. Their energy intake is limited, necessitating a slow-paced lifestyle to conserve energy.

Mountain Gorillas

mountain gorilla sitting on a grass

  • Scientific Name: Gorilla beringei beringei
  • Length and Height: 4 – 6 ft / 300 – 485 lb
  • Diet: Herbivorous

Mountain gorillas are extraordinary creatures that call the jungles and forests of Central Africa’s volcanic mountains their home. Their numbers are precariously low, with fewer than a thousand of these gentle giants still gracing our planet.

Mountain gorillas are social animals, forming vibrant communities with as many as 30 members. They might have a somewhat intimidating reputation, being perceived as aggressive, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, they’re typically shy and tranquil beings, only showing signs of agitation when disturbed.

Blessed with a diverse buffet of plant life in their habitats, these great apes are dedicated vegetarians. Their dietary habits reveal a fondness for leaves, bamboo shoots, stems, and fruits. Such plant-based food sources account for an overwhelming majority, roughly 86%, of their total food consumption.

It’s worth noting that their diet varies seasonally. During the rainy season, bamboo shoots become their go-to food source. (source)

Elephants

the brown elephant standing in a grass field

  • Scientific Name: Loxodonta
  • Length and Height: 6 – 11 ft / 2 – 7.5 t
  • Diet: Herbivorous

Roaming across forests, deserts, and savannahs are magnificent elephants, gentle behemoths of the animal kingdom well known for their large ears and sharp intelligence. Their cognitive abilities rival those of primates, a testament to their complex and intricate minds.

Another astounding aspect of elephants’ lives is their eating habits. They dedicate nearly 80% of their day, or about eighteen hours, to eating, consuming an impressive 300 lb of plant-based food every day. These mammoth eaters have a palate for diversity, savoring up to 112 different kinds of plants.

Not surprisingly, elephants’ intake isn’t limited to solid food; they’re heavy drinkers too! On a daily basis, they guzzle down 152 liters (or about 40 gallons) of water.

Bamboo, particularly a variety called Mai Roak, also finds its way onto the elephant’s menu. However, tree bark is the ultimate delicacy for these creatures. They can’t resist its calcium-rich content and the roughage it provides, aiding in their digestion.

Giant Pandas

giant panda walking on the leaves

  • Scientific Name: Ailuropoda melanoleuca
  • Length and Height: 2 – 3 ft / 150 – 180 lb
  • Diet: Herbivorous

If someone asks you to name one animal that eats bamboo, you would probably say the giant panda Despite falling under the carnivore classification, these cute bear species have a twist to their dietary tale – they’re primarily herbivores, with bamboo constituting the mainstay of their diet.

What’s fascinating is that pandas’ jaws and teeth have evolved specifically for a bamboo diet. They have strong jaw muscles and enlarged molars and premolars to crush and grind the tough bamboo stalks. Their “pseudo-thumb,” a modified wrist bone, allows them to adeptly hold and manipulate bamboo stalks.

Their love for bamboo is so profound that they’ve been known to feast on up to 40 different bamboo species in the wild. The variety of bamboo species they consume ensures they have access to food year-round, as different species shoot at different times of the year.

To fulfill their dietary needs, giant pandas consume an impressive 20 to 40 pounds of bamboo each day, favoring tender shoots and leaves. In fact, they dedicate up to 14 hours a day to munching bamboo.

Golden Monkeys

gray monkey with brown forehead

  • Scientific Name: Cercopithecus kandti
  • Length and Height: 19 – 26 in / 10 – 15 lb
  • Diet: Herbivorous

A fascinating primate hailing from the volcanic uplands of Central Africa is the golden monkey, named so for the radiant orange patches adorning their backs, upper flanks, and forehead.

Golden monkeys are herbivores, and in addition to bamboo, they also consume a variety of fruits and leaves, especially during bamboo off-season. This diversity in diet aids their survival during times when their favorite food is less abundant.

Interestingly, golden monkeys play an essential ecological role too. By feeding on bamboo and other plants, they help in seed dispersal, thus promoting forest regeneration in their habitat.

Related: Animals That Eat Flowers

Bamboo Rats

  • Scientific Name: Rhizomyini
  • Length and Height: 5.9 – 9.8 in / 1.1 – 1.7 lb
  • Diet: Herbivorous

Tucked away in the bamboo-laden mountains of southern and eastern Asia are the petite and fascinating bamboo rats. As their name implies, bamboo isn’t just part of their habitat; it forms the core of their diet. Remarkably, they’ve adapted to thrive on a diet of bamboo exclusively.

Armed with sharp, resilient teeth, these industrious rodents undertake the intricate task of creating sprawling underground burrows. These subterranean homes serve a dual purpose, providing shelter and access to a veritable feast of bamboo roots, their primary food source.

These rodents live a primarily nocturnal lifestyle. While the sun shines, they remain ensconced in their burrows, surfacing under the cover of darkness to forage. Their night-time menu extends beyond bamboo, encompassing fruits and seeds. They’re also adept climbers, venturing up bamboo stalks to secure nutrient-rich morsels for later consumption.

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