What is Bear?

Bear is the popular name for any of the mammals in the Carnivora order's, family Ursidae which have a huge and hefty body, thick fur, short but stocky legs, and short tails. A male bear is known as a boar, and a female bear is known as a sow. Carnassials are modified teeth in the upper and lower jaws that are utilised to shred meat into smaller portions during feeding in all of these carnivores. On the other hand, Bears aren't primarily meat-eaters, and their molars are well-suited to chewing plant matter. Bears are carnivores in the sense that they belong to the order Carnivora, yet most surviving species have an omnivorous diet. Bears, on the other hand, are opportunistic, omnivorous feeders. Bears are found in a wide variety of habitats throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere and partially in the Southern Hemisphere, even though there are only eight living species. Let us understand about different types of this family Ursidae, its habitat, behaviour and natural traits.


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History of Bear

Bears first emerge in the fossil record 27 million years ago as the dawn bear, a fox-sized mammal. There were various bear species around 6 million years ago, some of which were enormous, but they are now all extinct. Today, seven bear species exist. The polar bear (Thalarctos maritimus ) is the most recent, having evolved from the brown bear (Ursus arctos ) about 70,000 years ago. The cave bear that is scientifically known as Ursus spelaeus, a massive mammal that co-existed with humans as late as 20,000 years ago, was the most recent extinction. Based on morphological and genetic resemblance, the giant panda the scientific name is Ailuropoda melanoleuca is frequently categorised as a bear. Bears have an important role in many traditional civilizations in northern Europe, Asia, and North America. They are frequently thought to possess supernatural abilities, and rituals centred on bear hunting have arisen in many areas. The ghost of the murdered bear is frequently thought to be a messenger sent to the spirit realm on behalf of the community. Artemis, the Greek goddess, and King Arthur, the English hero, are both named after the Indo-European word for bear (Ward 1995). The bear is the ancestor and emblematic animal of the Korean people, according to Korean mythology. Bears are represented by the constellations Ursa Major and Ursa Minor. Bears have also been hunted for their flesh and fur for a long time. Like a tough piece of beef, their meat is black and stringy. Bear paws are considered a delicacy in Cantonese cuisine. Zoos and circuses also have captive bears on display. They've been employed in brutal sports in the past, where they were forced to fight dogs and other animals. Bears have been utilised as totems and emblems for a long time. Berlin, Germany, and Bern, Switzerland, are both named after bears and possess bears on their coats of arms.


All About Different Types of  Bear


Type of Bear

Physical Features

Habitat

Behaviour

Asiatic Black Bear (Selenarctos thibetanus)

Moon bear is the alternate common name for this black-coloured animal with a white crescent on its chest. The hair on its neck is much longer than on the rest of its body. A male can weigh up to 350 pounds, or 159 kilogrammes, whereas females often weigh less than 200 pounds or 91 kilogrammes.

With less than 50,000 individuals worldwide, this bear can be found in Himalayan forests from Afghanistan to Japan, and south to Southeast Asia.

Although the Asiatic black bear is mostly nocturnal, it will occasionally venture out during the day to eat sun-warmed fruit. It's also an opportunistic predator, capable of breaking the necks of very large creatures. Asiatic black bears sleep through the winter in the north, while they are active all year in the southern half of their territory. The cubs are born 3 to 4 months after they mate in the autumn. Cubs are weaned at four months of age, which is substantially earlier than in other bear species.

Brown Bear (Ursus arctos)

Weighs about 93 – 410 kg which is 205 – 900 lbs and Brown bears can be white, cinnamon, or black in colour, although their fur is most usually brown. 

The colouration grizzled refers to brown bears with white points on the ends of their hairs.

The shape of its head is concave or scooped inward, and its shoulders are high due to a dense coating of muscle and fat that makes the back appear to slope downhill when viewed from the side.

They reside in the northern hemisphere's forest, tundra, and grassland, which includes both North America and Eurasia. The Eurasian brown bear (U. a. arctos ) is found throughout temperate and subarctic Eurasia; the grizzly bear (U. a. horribilis ) is found in Canada, Russia, and Alaska and the US. And the Kodiak bear (U. a. middendorffi ) of Kodiak Island is also found in two smaller islands in the Bering Sea off Alaska.

Grizzlies that live near rivers that go into the ocean feed as much as they can on migrating salmon. Bears that eat well can grow to be enormous. Despite their enormous size, they enjoy swimming and are skilled at catching fish, which they transport to land to peel the flesh from the bones. When there isn't any meat available, grizzlies eat roots, berries and sedge leaves.


Late in the spring, grizzly bears mate. The sow seeks a den in a cave or hollow tree in the autumn and retires for the winter. Usually, in February, two or three cubs are born. The cubs remain with their mother for at least two years, nursing for the majority of that period. The mother is fiercely protective of her pups, teaching them to climb trees to flee danger. Sow grizzlies guarding their young are the ones who attack humans the most.


North American Black Bear (Ursus americanus)

Black bears have black fur, although it can also be brown, light tan, or even white. Within a litter of cubs, several hues may appear.


The ears of black bears are larger than those of other bears. The average adult weight ranges from 125 and 600 pounds (ranging from 57 and 272 kg) depending on the community. Males are approximately one-third heavier than females. Individual weight fluctuates dramatically throughout the year, depending on the amount of nutritional food available. When the areas of the two species overlap, black bears prefer to stay out of sight because they are much smaller than grizzlies.

It is mostly found in forested areas, but it can also be found in grassy meadows and tundra. It can be found across most of North America, from Alaska to Newfoundland, and all the way down to Mexico. Despite the fact that many areas of its range are depleted, it is still a widespread species.

Each black bear has its own domain in which it hunts for berries, nuts, honey, insect grubs, fish, rodents, and carrion. The domain of a male usually overlaps that of multiple sows. During the summer, black bears mate, with each female being visited by numerous males. It is not until autumn when the fertilised egg implants. The fertilised eggs, on the other hand, do not implant if the female bear is malnourished. After an 8–10 week gestation, one to four cubs are born in January.

Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus)

The polar bear appears white to blend in with the snow. They have a long neck and head than brown bears and are quite skinny. The individual hairs of their thick fur are translucent, and their coat appears white due to reflected sunlight. Their skin is strangely black. Any sunlight that passes through the animal's fur is absorbed by the black skin, which helps to keep it warm.

Polar bear populations can be found in five countries that includes the United States (Alaska), Canada, Denmark (Greenland), Norway, and Russia. These countries are working together to maintain their polar bear populations, allowing only a limited amount of hunting. The majority of the bear hunting is done by aboriginal people, who eat the meat and sell the precious hides.

Their claws are longer than other bears', and they utilise them to catch their seal prey as it emerges from the water at a breathing hole or along the edge of an ice floe. Polar bears break into the frozen burrows where female seals had given birth to their young in the spring. When the ice on the mainland shore melts in the summer, polar bears may go onto the land to eat on berries or fast. 

They may also be drawn to waste dumps in towns, where they may come into contact with people, which can be dangerous. Polar bears are typically lonely creatures who only come together to breed in late spring (March-June).

In December or January, one to three cubs are born in a snow den built by the mother. At birth, the cubs weigh about 650 g, but when they emerge from the den in April, they weigh 9 kg or more. Because the sow's milk includes more than 30% fat, this rapid weight gain is conceivable. The cubs spend at least two years with their mother, learning to hunt and defend themselves. At that point, the mother will mate once again. At the age of five, young females are sexually mature. Polar bears can live for 20 years or more.

Panda Bear (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)

Giant pandas have a black and white coat which gives them a distinctive appearance from the rest, with black fur around their eyes, ears, mouth, legs, and shoulders. In their cold mountain homes, their thick, woolly cloak keeps them warm. A mature panda can weigh up to 150 kilogrammes, with males being 10% larger and 20% heavier than females.

Between 4,000 to 13,000 feet in height, giant pandas live in mixed broadleaf and coniferous forests. Most of the year, these temperate woodlands are either engulfed in mist or subjected to downpours. Pandas are mostly found in temperate forests high in the mountains of southwest China, where they eat bamboo almost exclusively. 

Depending on whatever portion of the bamboo they eat, they must consume anywhere from 26 to 84 pounds each day. They use their opposable thumbs, which are larger wrist bones. 

They avoid stressful situations and exertion as a result of their low-energy diet, preferring shallow slopes and solitary existence. To avoid each other, they employ scent identifiers. Giant pandas communicate by bleating like goats, or honking, growling, and barking, rather than roaring like other bears. Cubs scream and beg for attention. 

Panda families do not dwell in the same house. They are solitary, with each female having a distinct territory. Except during the short breeding season (March to May), when they fight for female attention, males normally live apart. The cubs are raised entirely by females.

Spectacled Bear (Tremarctos ornatus)

Spectacled bears have shaggy black, brown, or occasionally reddish fur. The whitish to yellowish rings around their eyes, resembling enormous eyeglasses, have earned them the name. However, these lines don't usually completely encircle the eyes, and some people don't have any markings at all. It can easily climb trees and sleep in them. Male spectacled bears can grow to be almost 6 ft (1.8 m) long with a head-to-body length of almost 6 ft (1.8 m) and a weight of 400 lb (182 kg). They have a shorter nose than other bears when viewed from the side. 

Spectacled bears bathe in mountain ponds and streams on a regular basis. Although spectacled bears can be found at elevations ranging from 250 to 4,700 metres above sea level and in a wide range of ecosystems, cloud forest (also known as an Andean forest) and high Andean moorland known as páramo are their favoured habitats. They live in a neotropical biogeographic zone. Venezuela, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia are all part of their range states. 

There is no special season top mate for spectacled bears and the breeding season can happen at any time of the year. The female's gestation span is 5.5 to 8.5 months. They usually give birth to 1 to 3 cubs in an out-of-the-way, sheltered den between December and February. However, very nothing is known about how females select their den sites. For chewing tough plant parts like orchid bulbs and tree barks, these bears have unusually strong jaws and broad, flat molars (tooth).

Because they dwell in deep tropical woods with enormous trees, their larger forelimbs have given them the capacity to climb up trees with ease.


Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus)

Long, shaggy fur, a mane around the face, and long, sickle-shaped claws characterise this creature. Brown and Asian black bears are lankier than this bear. Sloth bears are 5 to 6 feet (1.5 to 2 metres) long, with a shoulder height of 2 to 3 feet (0.5 to 1 metre) and a weight of 200 to 300 pounds on average (90 to 140 kilograms). 

Sloth bears can be found in a range of dry and moist forests, as well as tall grasslands with boulders, scattered bushes, and trees for protection. India, Sri Lanka, and southern Nepal are all part of their range. 

It has a number of peculiar behavioural characteristics, including the fact that it carries its young on its back and that the male stays with the female to assist raise the cubs. Long, powerful claws are utilised by sloth bears to rip open termite nests while foraging. 

These bears adjust their sleep-wake cycle to their surroundings and depending on how many other bears, people, or predators share their habitat, they may be nocturnal, diurnal, or crepuscular. Sloth bears, for example, may be more active during the day in protected regions. Sloth bears do not hibernate and are active for roughly eight to fourteen hours each day.

They follow a crepuscular schedule at the Zoo, which means they are active in the morning and evening but sleep in the middle of the day and nights.

Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus)

With huge paws, highly curled claws, small rounded ears, and a short snout, it has a stocky build. The fur is usually jet black, but it can also be grey or red. Sun bears are named because of their distinctive orange to cream coloured breast patch. The Malayan sun bear is the smallest, with males being around 4 ft (1.2 m) length from head to tail, 28 in (70 cm) tall at the shoulder, and weighing up to 440 lb (200 kg).

Tropical evergreen rainforests, montane forests, and swamp habitats can all be found in Southeast Asia's tropical forests. The Sun Bear used to be common in South East Asia's lowland forests. However, it has largely vanished from most of its historical ranges in recent decades. 

Sun bears, on the other hand, unlike any other bear, have hairless feet to help them climb trees. Bears' feet are equipped with powerful claws. Bears move in a plantigrade gait, which means they walk on their heels and soles. The majority of mammals walk on their toes. Bears can run at rates of up to 40 mph (64 km/h) for short distances, despite their lumpy and awkward appearance.


Interesting Facts About Bear

  1. The coat of a polar bear is made up of two distinct layers: the shorter coat provides weather protection, while the longer coat prevents water from reaching the shorter coat layer and skin. Each layer has a specific purpose and allows bears to survive in subzero temperatures.

  2. Bears can walk a short distance on their hind legs, earning them the nickname "the creatures that walk like a man" among some Native Americans. This talent is ruthlessly utilised in cruel bear dance, as they can shuffle in a way that gives the impression that they are "dancing." 

  3. Bears consume largely meat and fish, but they also eat vegetation and insects in small amounts.

  4. Polar bears make up about 60% of the world's population.

  5. Other bear species have smaller ears than the Asiatic black bear.

  6. In comparison to other land mammals of their size, they have the largest and most complex brains, and they rely on it for a variety of actions.

  7. Baloo is a sloth bear that is very widely known thanks to the global hit movie, The Jungle Book.

  8. The majority of bears have 42 teeth.

  9. Grizzly bears have the ability to recall the faces of other bears.

  10. The Koala does not resemble a bear.

  11. Finland's national animal is the brown bear.

  12. Asiatic bears make tree nests.

  13. Bears, unlike many other mammals, can see in colour.

  14. Polar bears are the world's greatest predators on land.

  15. Bears do not urinate throughout their hibernation period.

  16. Bears will trek for miles just to scratch their backs on their favourite trees.

  17. During WWII, a Bear, mammal from the family Ursidae, served in the Polish Army. 

  18. Teddy bears are named after President Theodore ‘Teddy' Roosevelt of the United States.

FAQs on Bear

1. How Dangerous Are The Commonly Found Brown Bears?

Answer. Brown bears of family Ursidae will attack humans if they are shocked or feel threatened. They rarely attack humans, and they try to stay away from them as much as possible. On the other hand, a brown bear is 21 times more hazardous than a black bear and 3.5 times more dangerous than a polar bear if they come into contact.

2. How Does a Bear Go About Hunting?

Answer. The bear bites its victim in the neck or back to kill it. It can also kill the target animal by striking it with its forepaw, which often breaks the animal's spine. The bear will frequently bite its prey in the snout, leaving deep canine traces that are visible.

3. Is it Possible for a Polar Bear to Hunt a Human?

Answer. Polar bears appear to be adorable, cuddly, and even friendly. Don't be deceived, though. They're great hunters and ruthless when it comes to it. Polar bears will seek humans for sustenance, especially if they are young and malnourished. Although bear assaults on people are rare, the big land and shoreline carnivores' size and great power often result in fatal damage.

4. Is it True that Sloth Bears are Lazy?

Answer. The word 'sloth' refers to severe sloppiness and laziness. Sloth bears hang upside down from tree branches on occasion, and young ones ride on their mothers' backs, just like sloths. The sloth bear, on the other hand, is not as slow as a sloth, which rarely moves throughout the day.

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