The Best Way to Impress the Ladies


Remember Po, the extremely clumsy yet skillful warrior in the movie Kung Fu Panda? Well, you will be amazed to know that pandas in real life can perform martial arts too – they can do the handstand!

panda doing handstand2

Research has shown that male giant pandas (Ailuropoda Melanoleuca) often perform such acrobatic acts to “impress the ladies” and intimate their rivals (National Geographic, 2010). When a male panda scent-marks an object, the height of the mark actually lets other pandas know their size and status. Thus, the males often go upside down on their front paws with the aim of pushing their urine as high up a tree trunk as possible. This is done in the hope of attracting the females and scaring off rival competition (BBC Science/Nature, 2004).

Known to be solitary mammals that have little visual and vocal contact with one another, the endangered giant pandas thus rely heavily on chemical communication through scent. Besides using scent to coordinate mating, these remarkable creatures also utilise it to mark their territory and establish social relationships.

On top of the aforementioned handstand position, there are three other distinct gymnastic postures which the giant pandas often adopt to deposit their individual unique scent: squat, reverse on vertical surfaces and leg cock (Swaisgood, Lindburg & Zhou, 1998). They will rub an acidic-smelling substance, secreted by glands surrounding the ano-genital area, on tree trunks and stones through these various methods (Wanglang Nature Reserve, 2001). The males scent-mark frequently year-round, though increasing significantly during the mating season, whereas the females’ marking behaviour occurs predominantly during the mating season (Kleiman, 1985).

Now, looks like the battle for women is no longer just based on looks.

Reference List

Images and Video

BBC Wildlife. (2008). “Giant Panda Bear Does Handstand!”. Retrieved 4 April, 2010 from

Kjdrill. (2008). “Upside down Zhennie during the rainstorm”. Retrieved 4 April, 2010 from

Lynch, P. (2008). “Kung Fu Panda”. Retrieved 4 April, 2010 from


BBC Science/Nature. (2004). “Panda handstand makes its mark”. Retrieved 4 April, 2010 from

Kleiman, D. G. (1985). Social and reproductive behaviors of the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca). Bongo, 10: 45–58.

National Geographic. (2010). “Giant Pandas, Giant Panda Pictures, Giant Panda Facts”. Retrieved 4 April, 2010 from

Swaisgood, R. R, Lindburg, D. G., & Zhou, X. (1998). Giant pandas discriminate individual differences in conspecific scent. Animal Behaviour, 57: 1045–1053

Wanglang Nature Reserve. (2001). Panda Facts. Retrieved 4 April, 2010 from

Male Porcupines’ Golden Shower of Love

Porcupines undergo several stages of courting process before they engage in copulation. Shadle, Smelzer and Metz reported one peculiar mating ritual in their 1946 study on the North American Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum). They observed that the male porcupine would approach the female with his penis fully erected and spray her with high-pressure jets of urine. In one encounter, the forceful stream of urine was noted to have shot as far as 6 feet and 7 inches from the spot where the male porcupine stood. In less than a minute, the female may be thoroughly drenched from nose to tail.

It is still unclear what is the scientific or biological function behind this unusual male urine-hosing of the female. Manono (2006) suggested that males do it to soften the female porcupines’ quills enough before mounting on her for copulation. Personally, I feel the males do so to test for the female’s reaction on whether she’s ready to mate or not. Research has shown that female porcupines will express objection to reject the male’s advances.

Another study on the North American Porcupine by Spalsbury (1956) reported the same unusual courting behavior in male porcupines. He observed, in one encounter, that this behavior thoroughly terrified the young female porcupine and caused her to run to a corner of the cage where she buried her head between her front legs. The male trailed after her and tried to sniff her genital organs, but she whacked him in the face with her tail.

More pictures of the North American Porcupine


“Erethizon dorsatum (North American Porcupine),” by Arthur Chapman. Hosted on, 5 October 2009. URL: (accessed on 28 March 2010).

“Erethizon dorsatum (North American Porcupine),” by Arthur Chapman. Hosted on, 5 October 2009. URL: (accessed on 28 March 2010).

“Erethizon dorsatum (North American Porcupine),” by Arthur Chapman. Hosted on, 5 October 2009. URL: (accessed on 28 March 2010).

“Hunting Down Porcupines to Earn a Living”, by Clifford Manono., 9 April 2006. URL: (accessed on 28 March 2010).

Spalsbury, J.R., 1956. Unusual Sex behavior of a Male Porcupine, Erethizon dorsatum epixanthum. Journal of Mammalogy, 37 (3): 452-453.

Shadle, A.R., Smelzer, M. & Metz, M., 1946. The Sex Reactions of Porcupines (Erethizon d. dorsatum) before and after Copulation. Journal of Mammalogy, 27 (2): 116-121.