Sources: the National and San Diego Zoos
It appears that the world has fallen in love with Xiao Liwu – Bai Yun’s cub at the San Diego Zoo. As we watch him grow, we thought it would be fun to give you some basic facts (via the National Zoo) about cub development.
Just 1/900th of their mother’s weight, a newborn panda is born pink, covered in sparse, short white hairs. It weighs three to five ounces, and is about seven inches long, including a proportionately long tail. Its eyes are shut tightly. It cries loudly and often. A newborn Panda cub’s size has been compared to a stick of butter.
The cub’s limbs are weak—it will be several weeks before it can crawl. It continues to vocalize, to communicate its needs and strengthen the relationship with its mother. The cub spends its days sleeping and suckling often. At about a week old, black patches appear on the skin around the eyes, ears, shoulders, and legs. Black hair will grow in these areas in a couple of weeks. The mother frequently licks the cub to stimulate urination and defecation and to clean the cub.
One to two months old:
After about a month, the cub resembles a miniature adult with a longer tail. It vocalizes less and less until it ceases crying and squealing by the time it is two months old. Its eyes open partway after 30 to 45 days and open fully a week or two later.
The mother may not leave to eat bamboo until her baby is three or four weeks old. By this time, the baby can better regulate its body temperature and does not require constant contact with its mother to stay warm. Mother has been staying busy providing the cub with high-fat milk. It may grow to ten times its birth weight in five to six weeks. At two months, it suckles three to four times a day.
Three to four months old:
The cub can stand and walk a few steps after about 75 to 80 days. At about this time, teeth begin to erupt. The order in which they appear varies from one panda to another. Its eyesight improves, and its hearing becomes more acute. It suckles two to three times a day. At four months old, the cub is active, running several steps at a time and climbing up on its mother’s back to play.
Five months to one year old:
At five months, the cub trots behind its mother, mimics her while she eats bamboo, and climbs trees. It may sit in a tree by itself for hours. At six months, it has 26 to 28 teeth and begins to eat solids. It will have deciduous teeth at one year of age, and its permanent teeth will start to erupt at this age. It suckles only once or twice a day. It may continue to suckle at eight or nine months old. By age one, it may weigh 50 to 60 pounds.
One and a half years old:
In the wild, the cub leaves its mother at one and a half to two years of age.
Enjoy this compilation of all the best moments from panda cub Xiao Liwu’s first twelve exams and track his progress: Xiao Liwu’s Exam Compilation