Are pandas less fertile than other animals? © Getty Images

Are pandas less fertile than other mammals?

What's black and white and red all over? A panda, embarrassed that we're discussing its fertility.

Asked by: Anonymous


No. They’re more fertile than some and less than others. The fertility rate per individual is how many offspring they have. Giant panda cubs weigh only three to five ounces (85-140g) when born, rely on mother’s milk for at least a year and leave their mother at 18-24 months. So in the wild pandas give birth to roughly one cub every two years.

This is a minuscule fertility rate compared to rats or rabbits, but much more than humans. Their reputation for sluggish breeding comes from their unwillingness to mate in captivity. But the good news is that in July 2009 Chinese scientists confirmed the first birth of a panda cub using artificial insemination from frozen sperm.


Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun science facts.