Types of bears - Species and their characteristics

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The Bears they have evolved from a common ancestor with cats, dogs, seals or weasels 55 million years ago. We can find bears in almost every place in the world, each one of them adapted to your environment. These adaptations are what make some species of bears different from others. The color of the coat, the color of the skin, the thickness, the thickness and the length of the hair make them better adapted to the environment in which they live, in order to regulate their body temperature or camouflage themselves with their environment..

Currently, there are eight species of bears, although these species are subdivided into many subspecies. In this AnimalWised article, we will see how many types of bears there are and their characteristics..

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  1. Malay bear
  2. Lipped bear
  3. Spectacled bear
  4. Grizzly
  5. Asian black bear
  6. American black bear
  7. Giant panda bear
  8. Polar Bear

Malay bear

The malay bears, also known as sun bears (Helarctos malayanus) inhabit the warm areas of Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam or Borneo, although their populations have decreased alarmingly in recent years due to the disappearance of their natural habitat and the use attributed by Chinese medicine to the bile of this animal.

It is the smallest species of bear that exists, the males weigh between 30 and 70 kilograms and females between 20 and 40 kilograms. Its fur is black and very short, adapted to the warm climate where it lives. They have one horseshoe-shaped chest stain orange.

Their diet is based on the consumption of nuts and fruits, although they will eat whatever they can, such as small mammals or reptiles. They may also consume honey whenever they find it. For this they have a very long tongue, with which they will extract the honey from the hives.

They do not have a breeding season, so they can reproduce throughout the year. Also, Malayan bears do not hibernate. After copulation the male will stay with the female to help her find food and a nest for the future offspring, when they are born the male can stay or leave. Once the young are separated from their mother, the male will leave or copulate with the female again..

Lipped bear

The lipped bears or lazy bears (Melursus ursinus) live in India, Sri Lanka and Nepal. The population that existed in Bangladesh has become extinct. They can live in a number of different habitats such as dry and humid tropical forests, savannas, scrublands, and grasslands. They avoid places that are highly disturbed by humans.

They are characterized by having long, straight and black hair, very different from other species of bears. It has a very elongated muzzle with prominent and mobile lips. On their chest they have a "V" shaped white patch. They can weigh 180 kilograms.

Your diet is halfway between insectivorous and frugivorous. Insects such as termites and ants can account for more than 80% of the diet, although when it is the fruiting season of the plants, the fruit will account for between 70 and 90% of the bear's diet..

They reproduce between May and July, the females give birth to one or two cubs between the months of November and January. During the first nine months, the young will be carried on their mother's back and will remain with her for one or two and a half years..

Spectacled bear

The spectacled bears (Tremarctos ornatus) live in South America and are endemic to the Tropical Andes. Specifically, they can be found in the countries of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru.

The main characteristic of these animals is undoubtedly the white spots around the eyes. These spots also spread over the muzzle and neck. The rest of the coat is black. Its skin is thinner than that of other species of bears, due to the hot climate where it lives.

They can live in a wide variety of ecosystems throughout the tropical Andes, including tropical dry forests, tropical humid lowlands, montane forests, dry and humid tropical shrub areas, and high altitude tropical shrublands and grasslands..

Like most bears, the spectacled bear is an omnivorous animal, its diet is based on very fibrous and tough vegetation, such as palm branches and leaves and bromeliad. They can also eat mammals like rabbits or tapirs mountain, but mostly they consume farmyard animals. When the time comes when the plants are in fruit, the bears supplement their diet with a wide variety of tropical fruits.

Not much is known about the reproduction of these animals in the wild. In captivity, females behave like seasonal polyestrics. There is a mating peak between the months of March and October. The size of the litter varies from one to four puppies, with twins being the most common..


The grizzly (Ursus arctos) is found throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere, Europe, Asia, and the western United States, Alaska, and Canada. Being such a widespread species, many of the populations are considered subspecies, there are about 12 different.

An example is the kodiak bear (Ursus arctos middendorffi) that inhabits the Kodiak Archipelago in Alaska. The types of bears in Spain are reduced to the European species, Ursus arctos arctos, found from the north of the Iberian Peninsula to Scandinavia and Russia.

Brown bears they are not only brown, they can also be black or cream color. The size varies according to the subspecies, between 90 and 550 kilograms. In the upper weight range we find the Kodiak bear and in the lower one the European bear.

They occupy a wide variety of habitats, from dry Asian steppes to arctic scrub and humid temperate forests. Living in a greater diversity of habitats than any other species of bear, they also exploit a wide variety of food. In the United States, they are more carnivores as we get closer to the north pole, where more ungulates inhabit and can find salmon. In Europe and Asia they have a more omnivorous diet.

Reproduction occurs between the months of April and July, but the fertilized egg does not implant in the uterus until the fall. The cubs, one to three, are born in January or February, when the mother is hibernating. They will be with her for two or four years.

Asian black bear

The population of asian black bear (Ursus thibetanus) is in recession. This animal inhabits southern Iran, the more mountainous regions of northern Pakistan and Afghanistan, the southern side of the Himalayas through India, Nepal, and Bhutan, and mainland Southeast Asia, spreading south into Myanmar and Thailand..

They are black with a small white crescent-shaped patch on the chest. The skin around the neck is thicker than the rest of the body and the hair in this area is longer, giving the sensation of having a mane. It is medium in size, between 65 and 150 kilograms.

They live in many different types of forests, both in broadleaf and coniferous forests, near sea level or at an altitude of more than 4,000 meters..

They have one very varied diet and seasonal. In spring their diet is based on stems, leaves and green shoots. In summer they eat a wide variety of insects such as ants that may be looking for 7 or 8 hours and bees, also fruits. In the fall, your preference shifts towards acorns, walnuts and chestnuts. They also feed on ungulates and cattle.

They reproduce in June and July, they give birth between November and March, depending on the conditions of the environment, the fertilized ovum will implant sooner or later. They have about two cubs that will stay with their mother for two years..

American black bear

The american black bear (Ursus americanus) has become extinct in most of the United States and Mexico, currently inhabiting Canada and Alaska, where the population is increasing. It mainly lives in temperate and boreal forests, but also extends to subtropical areas of Florida and Mexico, as well as sub-arctic. They can live near sea level or at more than 3,500 meters of altitude.

Despite its name, the American black bear can have another color of the coat, something more brownish and even white spots. They can weigh between 40 kilograms (the females) and 250 kilograms (the males). They have a much more robust complexion than other species of bear and a larger head.

Is a generalist and opportunistic omnivore, it will eat whatever it finds. Depending on the season they will eat one thing or another, herbs, leaves, stems, seeds, fruit, garbage, cattle, wild mammals or bird eggs. In autumn, historically, bears have fed on American chestnuts (Castanea dentata) but after a plague in the 20th century that decreased the tree population, the bears began to eat oak acorns and walnuts.

The reproductive season begins in late spring, but the cubs will not be born until the mother is hibernating, like other species of bears..

Giant panda bear

In the past, populations of Panda bear (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) they spread all over China, but currently it has been relegated to the western end of the provinces of Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu. Thanks to the efforts invested in its conservation, it seems that this species is growing again, so the giant panda is not in danger of extinction.

The panda bear is the most different ursid. It is believed that it was isolated for more than 3 million years, so it is normal to divergence in appearance. This bear has a very rounded and white head, with black ears and the contour of the eyes, the rest of the body is also black, except for the part of the back and the belly.

Regarding the habitat of the panda bear, we must know that they live in temperate forests of the mountains of China, at an altitude of between 1,200 and 3,300 meters. In these woods bamboo abounds, which is their main and practically only food. Pandas change places periodically, following the growth rate of bamboo.

They reproduce from March to May, the pregnancy lasts between 95 and 160 days and the young (one or two) spend a year and a half or two with their mother until they become independent..

Polar Bear

The Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) evolved from brown bear 35 million years ago. This animal lives in the arctic regions and its body is fully adapted to the freezing climate.

His hair, translucent because it is hollow, is filled with air, which works as an excellent insulator. In addition, it creates a white visual effect, perfect for camouflage in the snow and to be able to confuse their prey. Its skin is black, an important characteristic, as this color facilitates the absorption of heat..

As for the feeding of the polar bear, we must know that we are facing one of the most carnivorous bears. Their diet is based on various species of seal like the ringed sealPhoca hispida) or the bearded seal (Erignathus barbatus).

Polar bears are the animals that reproduce the least. They have their first children at an age between 5 and 8 years. They usually give birth to two youngsters who will spend about two years with the mother.

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