Brown bears

Brown bears

Brown bears abound in forested mountains, meadows and areas with plenty of fresh water and lots of vegetation. They are found in North America, Europe and Asia. Grizzlies are a distinct sub species of brown bears. Brown bears are closely related to black bears. But they are often mistaken to be grizzlies because their coat develops a distinct grayish tinge. Male bears weigh up to 700 pounds while females weigh around 350 pounds. When they stand on their legs, they reach almost 7 feet in height, and they do not stand as a sign of threat, rather they are curious and would like to see more. Large and rolling shoulder muscles and long strong claws help the bear to dig inside the ground, uproot shrubs etc.

As winter draws near, the brown bear gets ready to hibernate. Most bears weigh more right before their period of hibernation than after it. This is because during fall, the bear is busy eating as much as it can hold. It needs to stock up on fat for 4-7 months when it has to go without food. During this period a black bear may chew almost 40 kilos of food a day. When the cold settles in, the bear clumsily waddles into a cave and goes into a deep slumber during which time all its body functions become slow, thus minimizing the loss of energy.

One of the most interesting facts about the bear is that the female bear enters the cave already pregnant with its child. When the time comes, the mother bear is not even aware of its young one coming out. The new cub barely weighs 1 pound. It slides into position so that it can suckle. By the time the mother bear is ready to wake up, the baby bear would have reached a comfortable weight. The mama’s milk is very rich in fat content and this supplies the baby with the necessary calories. Due to this very reason, the female bear has to have really good reserves of fat in its body. The embryo within her womb develops only if she has the necessary fat deposits. Nearly one in every 2-3 cubs die before they complete their first year of life. Many die out of disease, some due to starvation. Big animals, even the cub’s own father, can become a threat if the cub is separated from its mother. This is why young cubs live with their mothers till they are old enough to take care of themselves. Mothers are usually fiercely protective of their babies.

Most brown bears love a vegetarian diet but they supplement their food with meat of fish and small mammals. Most bears have adapted themselves to enjoy the food that is most easily available in their area. For instance, bears that live near rivers gorge on the fresh fish, especially salmon that populate these streams. For all the huge amounts of fat they carry around, they are surprisingly agile and quick. They can reach a speed of 35mph in short bursts. But they slow down as their body fat increases because they tire easily.

Brown bears, just like grizzlies, are loners. They avoid humans if they can help it. They have only 3 desires in life – finding food, finding a mate and avoiding danger. Most brown bears are active during the early morning or the late evening hours. Some even prefer to be nocturnal. This is to avoid the loss of body heat that full exposure in the noon time can lead to. Brown bears like to nap the hottest hours away in their day-beds that have a thick canopy of foliage to protect them from heat.

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