10 facts about… Sun Bears

As a continuation of the 10 facts about bears series this time I am covering the Sun Bear. It is one of eight different species of bear comprising the American Black Bear, Brown Bear, Giant Panda, Polar Bear, Asiatic Black Bear, Spectacled Bear and the Sloth Bear. I will also add the Sun Bear to the Vital Statistics series.

1. At just 120cm from nose tip to tail tip and reaching up to only 70cm tall on all fours, this Sun Bear geezer is definitely petit and certainly not what springs to mind when one conjures up images of bears.

2. These guys have some serious toe nail issues. Measuring in at about 10cm each, Sun Bears have ridiculously long and curvy claws. They are very handy with them too, using them to dissect trees and shred open termite mounds and beehives. They are also useful for helping them grip when climbing.

3. Sun Bears walk a little funny. The feet of a Sun Bear turn inwards slightly. This is thought to be an adaptation of its tree climbing nature. Along with its long curvy claws and inward pointing feet it also has bald flat soles on its large paws, which would all aid climbing. The female has been observed cradling its cubs while walking on its hind legs, a very unusual trait for a bear.

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10 facts about… Panda Bears

1. Even though Pandas are actually omnivores, in the same family as the Polar Bear and the Grizzly Bear, they hardly eat any meat, in fact about 99% of their diet is vegetarian. They can eat up to 30kg of bamboo per day and spend most of the day eating. Bamboo is low in essential nutrients and pandas only digest about 20% of what they consume, which is why they eat so much.

2. Pandas may appear to be very friendly and cute but, like Grizzly bears, they are actually one of the more aggressive bear species when provoked. They are very territorial animals. Most aggressive encounters occur during the mating season.

3. Unlike other bears Pandas are mainly nocturnal creatures; because of this their eyes have pupils which are vertical slits that are similar to a cat’s eyes to help them see much better in the dark. All other bears have round eyes.

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10 facts about… Polar Bears

1. The Polar Bear is the largest land carnivore on the planet. Although the Kodiak brown bear is sometimes just as big, the Polar Bear on average reaches larger sizes. The largest Polar Bear we know of weighed over 1000 kilograms.

2. Polar Bears are the top of the Arctic food chain and don’t have any natural predators. Its main threat is from the melting icecaps due to global warming and human poaching.

3. The Polar Bear is an excellent swimmer. The blubber that covers the bear is about 10cm thick and helps them float as well as keeping them warm. Its paws are very large, up to 30 cm in diameter, and very strong, enabling them to swim large distances. Distances of more than 100 km are not unusual. It can also dive about 6 meters and hold its breath for 2 minutes. A bear swims faster (10kph) than it walks (9kph).

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Vital Statistics: Bears

Sun Bear

Age Range: Sun Bears are thought to live up to 25 years in captivity and between 15 and 20 years in the wild.

Height: Between about 60 – 70 cm tall, measured to shoulder height.

Length: 120 – 150 cm nose to tail.

Weight: Adult males weigh 30 – 65 kilograms. Adult females weigh 20 – 40 kg.

Family: Ursidae.

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10 facts about… Bears

1. Bears are good climbers and swimmers and despite their size can run quite quickly over short distances. Bears can run more than 45 kph.

2. Bears are, on the whole, solitary animals and only really congregate together when food is plentiful, like when catching salmon in streams.

3. Bears have an excellent sense of smell, much better than a dog and possibly the best of any mammal. It is mostly used to find food but is also used to detect the scent of other bears.

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