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Sun Bear Facts

The Sun Bear lives in Southeast Asia, from the Eastern Himalayas to parts of Southern China, and southward through parts of Burma, Vietnam and the Malayan peninsula. They live in tropical and subtropical forests.

They are the smallest member of the Ursidae (bear) family. They have a short, coarse fur that is completely black except for an occasional patch around their muzzle and a U-shaped patch on their chest. This patch is said to resemble a rising Sun and gives the bear its name. They have relatively large paws with bare soles and sickle-shaped claws, both of which are thought to aid the bear when climbing trees.

They spend much of their life foraging, eating and sleeping in trees. They are a nocturnal animal and are aided in the hunt for food by an exceptional sense of smell. Adult Sun Bears are almost completely blind and greatly depend on their sense of smell.

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OKBL56CWpA]

Some Sun Bear facts

Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Ursidae
Species: Helarctos Malayanus
Shoulder height: 70 cm
Length: 120 – 150 cm
Weight: 65 kg
Gestation period: 96 days
Life expectancy: 24 years

Sun Bears are omnivorous animals with a diet consisting mainly of insects and fruits, although they are opportunistic and will eat small rodents, birds and lizards. They have also been known to cause large amounts of destruction to farmers’ crop fields, including oil palms, coconut trees, banana plantations and cacao trees.

The Sun Bear is one of the rarest species of bear today. The exact number of bears living in the wild is not known for sure but population levels are steadily decreasing due to deforestation and hunting by humans. The Sun Bear has very few natural predators, but are hunted by humans either for their fur or to bring up their cubs as domestic pets.

Female Sun Bears  give birth to one or two cubs at a time and these cubs will usually stay with their Mother for at least two years or until they reach sexual maturity. Males reach sexual maturity at 4 and the females at 3.

Sun Bear Food and Foraging

Helarctos Malayranus – the “Sun Bear” – is the smallest species of bear in the world. They grow to about 4 feet in length and have a very sleek and short black coat. They weigh around 100 pounds on average, and due to their stocky build they resemble large dogs, leading to the nickname the “Dog Bear”.

They get their Sun Bear name from a patch of hair on their chests. This patch of hair can be golden or white in colour and is shaped like a horseshoe. It is said to resemble the rising Sun. Despite this name, the Sun Bear is a nocturnal animal.

The Sun Bear lives in subtropical forests in both lowlands and highlands. They spend the majority of their lives resting or foraging in the trees in the island regions of Southeast Asia, including Borneo, Sumatra, Kampuchea as well as regions of Laos, Vietnam, Burma and South China. The Sun Bear does not hibernate because it lives in such warm conditions.

The average life expectancy of a Sun Bear is around 25 years, although bears living in captivity can live longer. Sun Bears will give birth to one or two cubs per year which will be born after a gestation period of 96 days. The cubs are suckled for about 18 months but might stay with their Mother for more than two years. Female Sun Bears reach sexual maturity at the age of three and the males at the age of four.

They search for their food in the tree tops or on the forest floor. They are omnivores whose diet consists mainly of fruits, vegetation and insects, as well as the occasional small bird or mammal. They have an unusually long and slender tongue that helps them to eat large numbers of insects, usually termites, or even extract the honey from bee nests.

Their foraging depends on their exceptional sense of smell because most Sun Bears are almost completely blind.

The secretive Sun Bear

The Sun Bear is a secretive and reclusive bear that lives in the lowland forest areas of Southeast Asia. They are also known as the Malayan Sun Bear and get their name from a bib-shaped patch of golden hair on their chests that looks like the rising Sun.

Sun bears are the smallest species of bear. They typically grow to about half the size of the American Black Bear with the male of the species growing slightly larger than the female. They can weigh up to 150 pounds. Their stature and relatively light weight suit their lifestyle, which involves moving through trees to sleep and eat.

They have a stocky build with a short muzzle and very small ears. They have a short black coat to help maintain a cooler temperature in their warm habitat, but their coat is coarse and thick enough to protect the bear from twigs and branches. The Sun Bears appearance has earned it the nickname “Dog Bear”.

Despite their name, Sun Bears are nocturnal animals. They move through the forest during the night, foraging for berries and roots or hunting small invertebrates such as birds, lizards and rodents. They are not hindered by the darkness since they are practically blind. Instead they rely on a very good sense of smell to track down their meals.

Sun Bears are very reclusive creatures, which combined with their remote habitat means that little is known about their lifestyles. The bears are often spotted in pairs however, which leads some naturalists to believe they are monogamous animals.

Female Sun Bears, known as “sows”  give birth to 1 or 2 cubs at a time in a nest they build on the ground. These cubs are born completely blind and without any coat. The cubs can move for themselves after 1 or 2 months and are weaned by four months, although they will stay with their mother for 2 years or longer.

The Sun Bear is an endangered species due to the loss of its natural habitat and being hunted by humans, either for their fur, because they are destroying crops, or to raise the bear cubs as domestic pets.

Southeast Asia Sun Bear

The Sun Bear (Latin name ‘Helarctos Malayanus’) is the smallest member of the bear family. Male Sun Bears are approximately 4 ft (1.2 m) long and weigh between 30 and 60 kg. They get their name from the crescent-shaped patch of yellow or white hair on their chests which is said to resemble the rising Sun.

Sun bears can be found in both highland and lowland areas, although they are primarily a forest dwelling species. They live in the wild in the subtropical regions of Southeast Asia, including the islands around Indonesia, South China and even India.

The Sun Bear is an omnivore that eats a varied diet. This diet includes small lizards, birds and mammals, as well as fruits and berries, eggs, roots and shoots and even coconuts. They also have a very long and slender tongue that they use to eat honey from beehives.

Sun bears do not hibernate like many other bears do. This means that they can reproduce all year round, although very little is known about their mating habits. The gestation period of a Sun Bear is around 96 days, although there have been recorded gestation periods of over twice this length.

Cubs are born completely blind and helpless, and weight between 300 and 400g on average. After a couple of months the cubs will be strong enough to forage and play near their Mother.  A female Sun Bear can product 1 or 2 cubs per year.

With a fierce reputation and a very dangerous set of teeth the Sun Bear has very few predators apart from humans, who will kill the bears for their skins or capture them to be kept as pets. They will occasionally be attacked or overpowered by tigers or large reticulated pythons, or even their larger cousins the Asiatic Black Bear.

The Sun Bear does have a useful means of defence; the very loose skin around its neck actually allows the bear to turn its body inside its skin far enough to be able to bite its attacker even when being grabbed.