35+ Interesting Facts About Bears

  1. There are eight extant species of bears. These include giant pandas, polar bears, spectacled (or mountain) bears, sloth bears, sun bears, Asiatic black bears, American black bears, and brown bears.
  2. Bears are present on the continents of Asia, Europe, North America, and South America.
  3. Six species of bears are omnivores. Polar bears are carnivores, while giant pandas are herbivores (feed almost entirely on bamboo).
  4. In contrast to popular belief, bears are not true hibernators. Their sleeping behavior during winters (for 100 days or more) is called torpor. As opposed to hibernation, these animals can wake up during torpor in case of any danger. Pregnant female bears can also give birth during torpor after waking up at the time. (Source)
  5. Four bear species don’t hibernate. These include sun bears, sloth bears, spectacled bears, and giant pandas. The initial three species live in areas with sufficient food in all seasons, while giant pandas can’t hibernate due to less than necessary fat in their bodies.
  6. Bears have one of the best senses of smell in the animal kingdom. A bear’s sense of smell is seven times better than a bloodhound and 2,100 times better than a human’s sense. It can smell an animal’s carcass at a distance of 20 miles. (Source)
  7. Bear bile has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Research has proved that bear bile can treat liver disease and dissolve gallstones. It gave rise to bear farming in China in the 1980s. (Source)
  8. The polar bear is not only the largest bear but the largest carnivore on land. An adult male polar bear can weigh between 400 and 600 kg and can reach a length of over 8 feet. (Source)
  9. Bear is one of those animals used for entertainment since ancient times. In the past, they were used for bear-baiting (they had to survive against aggressive dogs). They are also used in circuses and as dancing bears (tame bears) in various parts of the world.
  10. Bears are one of few animals that walk on the entire sole of their feet, like humans. These are known as plantigrade animals.
  11. Brown bear (known as grizzly bear in North America) is the most widespread species of bear on land. It is present in Asia, Europe, and North Africa.
  12. The spectacled bear (or Andean bear) is the only bear species in South America. This bear is present exclusively in this region.
  13. The American black bear is native to the North American continent. It is the least-concern species among bears as its population is twice that of all combined species and its vast range (present in most parts of North America).
  14. Black bears are fond of eating ants. This eating habit is also beneficial for a native plant. The population of Rabbitbrush, a plant native to Colorado (USA), increased tremendously after bears largely removed ants. (Source)
  15. Bears with lightweight can climb trees easily. It is the reason that black bears, Andean bears, and cubs of grizzly bears can climb trees. But adult grizzly bears and polar bears can’t climb trees due to their heavy weight.
  16. A study has found that bears (brown and black bears) are the largest contributors to seed-dispersing in Alaska. These bears spread about 200,000 seeds of berry-producing shrub per square km per hour. (Source)
  17. A male black bear has been seen walking on two feet continuously for years without any problem. This bear in New Jersey adopted this gate after permanently damaging its front two feet. (Source)  
  18. Sloth bears mainly eat termites and ants. They also eat beetles, other insects, fruits, and honey. 
    A sloth bear
    Sloth bears are nocturnal and mostly eat insects

  19. Various bear species are either diurnal, nocturnal, or crepuscular (active during dawn and dusk). Giant pandas and brown bears are mostly crepuscular. Sun bears are diurnal, while sloth bears are nocturnal. Polar bears and black bears may eat at any time according to food availability.
  20. Mating between different species of bears is also possible. Hybrids between polar and grizzly bears have been seen in the Arctic. These “pizzly” bears can also reproduce. (Source)
  21. Modern bears initially appeared around 5 million years ago in Eurasia. The ancestors of bears (having characteristics of both dogs and bears) appeared between 38 and 55 million years ago.
  22. Bear produces 11 different sounds for communication. These include grunts, clicks, moaning, barking, roars, growling, huffing, etc. All these sounds have different purposes and are expressed on varying occasions. (Source)
  23. Bears have good senses of sight and hearing. These mammals can see in color and have better sensitivity and frequency of hearing compared to humans.
  24. Most of the bears have 42 teeth. These include incisors, molars, premolars, and canines. They use these teeth for ripping, tearing, and grinding their food. (Source)
  25. Growth rings in premolar teeth can provide the exact age of a bear. The oldest wild bear ever documented was a female black bear that died at 39 years of age. (Source)
  26. The size and color of brown bears vary according to their geographical location. Its color range is from blonde to light brown, brown, and almost black.
  27. Sun bears build nests like sleeping platforms in trees with leaves and branches.
  28. Sun bears have the longest tongue among bears. Their tongue can reach up to 10 inches in length. It helps them to eat their favorite food, honey.
  29. A brown bear named Wojtek remained part of the Polish army during WW2. This bear, native to Iran, was enlisted as a private soldier with a paid book and serial number. (Source)  
  30. Grizzly bears have the longest claws among bears and one of the longest in the animal kingdom. These can reach up to 4 inches in length.
  31. Unlike big cats, bears have non-retractable claws like dogs. Bears use these claws for completing several tasks like digging the ground, climbing trees, opening tree trumps, catching their prey, fighting, etc.
  32. Sun bears are the smallest among bears. They usually weigh less than 100 lbs. 
  33. Several infectious and non-infectious diseases are present in bears. These include viral infections, bacterial infections, parasitic diseases, dental problems, joint diseases, etc.
  34. Bears mark their territory by rubbing their bodies and leaving scents on the tree. These marked trees are scratched, bitten, and have bear hairs and underfur.
  35. Sun bears have no specific breeding season. All the other species of bear breed in the spring and early summer seasons and give birth in winters.
  36. Bears may also eat other bears. Polar bears have been found eating kids of other polar bears. Grizzly bears are also known for killing and eating black bears. (Source)


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