Sun Bear – interesting facts

October 10, 2010 | In: Animal facts for kids

GENUS & SPECIES: Helarctos malayanus

RANGE: Tropical to subtropical regions of Southeast Asia – Borneo, Sumatra, Malay Peninsula, Vietnam, Laos, Burma and possibly southern China.

Height: 70cm = 42 inches
Weight: 27-65 kg (approx. 100 lbs.)(Females about 20% less)
Coloration: Deep brown to black – whitish or orange chest mark, light grayish or orange fur on muzzle.

Sun Bears have a broad natural diet, eating any small rodent, lizard, small bird or insect it can find. Bees, termites and worms make up a large part of the diet. They are extremely fond of honey. they also enjoy buds, fruit and, occasionally, “fresh” carrion.

BEHAVIOR: Sun Bears live in dense forest areas. Primarily nocturnal, they frequently rest or sunbathe during the day on a platform of broken branches above the ground. The Sun Bear forages through the forest at considerable speed, using an energetic skimming behavior, its excellent sense of smell the primary locator.

ADAPTATION: Short, sleek coat – perhaps an adaptation to a lowland equatorial climate; it sheds rain, mud and other debris. The smallest of the bears, it is relatively light weight. It has strongly curved claws and large paws with naked soles which help to make the sun bear an adept climber. The sharp, strong claws also aid in obtaining food.

STATUS: Endangered – listed in CITES. Like all bears, the sun bear’s home is being used by humans for things like farming or logging. When this happens, food and habitat disappear. Also, all bears are hunted and their gall bladders and other organs are sold as medicines and aphrodisiacs.

BREEDING AND GROWTH: Mate at any time of year. Females breed in third year.

Gestation: approx. 96 days.
Thought to give birth to twin cubs in seclusion on the ground. Newborns are tiny, 10-12 oz., and are blind, hairless and unable to walk during the first two weeks. They usually accompany mother until nearly a year. It is thought that Sun Bears form monogamous pairs.

Longevity: in wild not known.
GENERAL INFORMATION: The Malayan Sun Bear is the smallest member of the bear family. Their cautious nature and small size make them, for man, the least dangerous of bears, and for this reason, locals sometimes keep them as pets. Poaching is still done over much of the region of Malaysia. Most of the bears that come into captivity are by this illegal method; the mothers are shot and the cubs are brought back as pets.

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