Pandas are considered to be lazy animals because they are often seen just sitting ideally or sleeping. But it seems that they are willing to put efforts to beat the cold.
A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found that pandas roll in fresh horse manure and rub it on their bodies to keep themselves warm. Chinese experts on the subject have witnessed that pandas sniffed horse manures, rubbed it on their cheeks and then smeared it all over their body, reported Daily Mail.
Research has found that there are two chemicals in horse manure that inhibit the cold sensing pathways in pandas. This helps them in putting up with the chill. Wenliang Zhou from the Chinese Academy of Sciences wrote this paper along with his colleagues.
In their paper, researchers said that the attraction to faeces is rarely found in wild mammalian species. The act was observed in Qinling giant pandas in the wild between 2016-17. In all, they witnessed 38 cases of horse manure rolling behaviour.
The study also found that the rolling in horse manure depended on the temperature and availability of fresh manure. The manure rolling behaviour was observed in the horse manure that was not more than 10 days old and between the temperature of -5 degree celsius to 15 degree celsius.
Working on their observations, the researchers did an experiment on giant pandas at Beijing zoo. They placed three piles of hay, one of which was treated with beta-caryophyllene and caryophyllene oxide. The second pile was treated with fatty acids while the third one was treated with water.
It was then observed that the giant pandas preferred rolling in the first pile. A lab experiment on mice was also conducted. Those mice who were treated with the two chemicals were more willing to walk over a warmed plate to a chilly one. They showed fewer cold behaviours like huddling.
The researchers have explained that the two chemicals interact with the thermosensitive receptors pathway of the animal, inhibiting the activation of pathway by cold.
Giant pandas remain the most endangered bears in the world, however, their numbers are slowly increasing. As a result of deforestation, they have been driven out of the lowland areas which were a part of their habitat.
Most pandas eat bamboo which constitute 99 percent of their diets. They also eat some small rodents. They are mostly found in central China, living in forests rich in bamboo.