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Facts For Kids About The 8 Types Of Bears


There are eight types of bears in the world. For many years scientists wondered whether the panda was more like the raccoon family or more like the bear family. The last ten years, DNA studies have shown that that giant panda is more closely related to the bear than a raccoon. Most bears are not the fierce predators we are often led to believe.

What characterizes and classifies a bear? 
Bears are generally large animals, and are characterized by a plantigrade walk, a large body, short legs, a stub of a tail, small, round ears, and forward facing eyes. All bears are classified as carnivores, with each species having a variable degree of herbivorous tendency such as the panda which is almost exclusively a herbivore snacking on leaves and bamboo.

Below you will find the 8 types of bears that are present throughout the world

American Black Bear (Latin Name: Ursus Americanus)

American black bears are like all the other bears we have written about so far in my project. Although they are usually black they can actually be brown, reddish brown or even white. The white ones are called Kermode or spirit bears.

How big are black bears?
About 5 – 6 feet long and usually between 200 – 300 pounds and are the smallest bears of North America

What color are black bears?
They can be black, brown (cinnamon bear), creamy white (spirit or Kermode bear), or gray-blue (glacier bear)

How fast can black bears run?
They can run up to 25 miles an hour when chasing prey and are also skillful tree climbers

Where do black bears live?
They live mostly in northern United States and in Canada.

Brown Bear (Latin Name: Ursus Arctos)

The brown bear, also known as a grizzly in North America, is like the bears in Brother Bear. They are large and are usually a dark brown, but can be a creamy shade or black. They have long claws on their front paws and have a hump on their shoulders.

How big are brown bears?
They are usually 6 – 8 feet long and weigh 350 – 500 pounds

What bears are considered to be brown bears?
They include Kodiak bear which is the world’s largest land carnivore, and grizzlies which are brown with silver-tipped hairs and are very smart.

How to identify a brown bear?
They have hump of fat and muscle on backs and are very powerful

Where do brown bears live?
They live in Canada and Alaska and northern Eurasia

Polar Bear (Latin Name: Ursus Maritimus)

Polar bears are immediately recognizable because of their distinctive white color of fur. They have a longer head and neck than all the other bears but have quite small ears. They have very big front paws, which are great for swimming. Their feet have special skin underneath which helps them walk on ice without slipping.

How big are polar bears?
The male polar bear can get to be 8 – 11 feet long and weigh over 1000 pounds. The polar bear is the world’s biggest bears and one of the best swimmers of all the bears.

How to identify an polar bear?
They have black skin and clear fur that appears white. They have a thick layer of blubber for insulation and long, wide feet good for swimming and walking on snow and ice.

What do polar bears eat?
They eat seals, young walruses, and fish

Where do polar bears live?
They live in regions bordering the Arctic Circle

Giant Pandas (Latin Name: Ailuropoda Melaneuca)

The Latin name for Giant Panda is Ailuropoda Melaneuca. The second word means “black and white” in Latin. The pandas are one of the most recognisable mammals alive because of their black and white fur.

How big do giant pandas get?
They usually reach a size of about 4- 6 feet long and may weigh up to 350 pounds.

How to identify a giant panda bear?
They have striking black and white markings and cannot walk on their hind legs like most other bears can.

How many giant pandas are left in the world?
There are only about 1000 wild pandas left due to habitat being destroyed

What does the giant panda eat?
They spend about 14 hours a day eating and eats about 50 – 60 pounds of bamboo a day

Where do giant pandas live?
They are found only in central mountains of China

Asiatic Black Bear (Latin Name: Ursus Thibetanus)

Asiatic black bears are medium sized black bears with a distinct white patch on their chests and have a white spot on their chins. Because of this on their chests people in Asia sometimes call them Moon bears.

How big is the asiatic black bear?
They are usually about 5 feet long and weigh about 250 pounds. They are smaller than American black bears.

How to identify a asiatic black bear?
They are black with white hairs on chin and a large white “V” on the chest

What is the habitat of the asiatic black bear?
They make beds of twigs in snow to sun selves and build nestlike beds in trees in summer. They are more fierce than most other bears and are also called moon bear.

Where do asiatic black bears live?
They live in southern and eastern Asia

Sloth Bear (Latin Name: Melursus Ursinus)

Sloth bears are quite small with long shaggy fur, which is usually black. Their nose is much lighter in color and their nostrils can be closed or open. They have a distinctive chest patch, which is white or yellow fur in a U or Y shape.

How big is a sloth bear?
They are about 5 feet long and weighs 200 – 300 pounds

How to identify a sloth bear?
It has long white snout with lips that allow it to suck up ants and termites. It has a long, shaggy black coat and a white mark on chest. Most of the time you will see a sloth bear with its cubs riding on their mother’s back

How did the sloth bear get its name?
It was named for unusually slow movements

What do sloth bears eat?
Due to it being slow it can not hunt fast animals so it is left to eat ants, termites, and bees

Where do sloth bears live?
They live in tropical forests of India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal

Spectacled Bear (Latin Name: Tremarctos Oratus)

Spectacled bears are black or brown in color and some even have a slight reddish tinge. The thing that gives them their name is the creamy white mark around their eyes. It makes them look like they are wearing glasses. They are scarce because of overhunting and destruction of habitat.

How big are spectacled bears?
They are about 5 feet long and weigh 200 – 300 pounds

How to identify a spectacled bear?
They haveblack or blackish brown coat. Their muzzle, throat, and chest are a cream colored and they have golden rings around eyes which makes them look like they are wearing spectacles. They tend to build nests in trees to keep away from predators.

Where do spectacled bears live?
They live in northwestern South America in remote forests of the Andes and are the only bears found in South America

Sun Bear (Latin Name: Ursus Malayanus)

The sun bear is the smallest member of the bear family. Sun bears are easy to spot with their short sleek black fur and unusual crescent shaped patch of yellow or white fur on their chest. Their paws are large with long curved pointed claws which are good for climbing trees. They are also called the Malayan bear and are endangered because of poaching and loss of their forest habitat

How big do sun bears get?
They can get about 3 – 4 feet long and weigh about 60 – 100 pounds. They are the smallest of all bears.

How to identify a sun bear?
They have a short velvety black coat, yellow or white markings on chest shaped like rising sun and a grayish or orange nose. They tend to sleep during the day.

What do sun bears eat?
They eat insects and fruit

Where do sun bears live?
They live in tropical forests of southeast Asia