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Brown Bear Facts

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The brown bear is easily the most populous bear species found on Earth. It has over 7 subspecies and occupies a vast range of habitat types. Read on to learn more about this type of bear.
Amongst the great predators of the animal kingdom, the brown bear is a definite candidate for the "big and burly" type.
Massive and tall, with a powerful stance, this bear (Ursus arctos) is a good example of adaptation and survival tactics. Here, learn some interesting brown bear facts.

The Brown Bear's Physical Characteristics

An average brown bear weighs between 300-780 kg, depending on the type of subspecies and geographical location.
Brown Bears can reach heights of 5.6-9.2 feet (complete body length).
The smallest subspecies is the Eurasian brown bear, while the largest are the Kodiak and the Siberian brown bear.
The all-American grizzly has an average weight of 150-450 kg and a shoulder height between 3-3½ feet. There are at least several existing subspecies of the brown bear. 4 subspecies are extinct.
They are :
  • The Grizzly bear - found in North America
  • The Kodiak bear - Alaska
  • Eurasian brown bear - found in Europe, Siberia and Mongolia
  • Kamchatka brown bear - found in parts of Japan and Russia
  • Eastern Siberian brown bear - East Siberia
  • Himalayan brown bear - found in India, Pakistan and Nepal
  • Syrian brown bear - Middle Eastern countries like Syria, Turkey, Iran, Iraq
  • Tibetan blue bear - Western areas of China and Tibet
  • Amur brown bear - Russia, China and Japan
The brown bear has a distinctive large build with a large shoulder hump. Their claws are big and curved with blunt ends, useful for scooping up fish from a stream or digging up earth.
Due to the hump, their forelimbs and muscles are extremely well-developed and they pack a powerful thrust with their forepaws. Their skulls are large and concave with a massive, teeth-filled jaw.
The brown bear has a more long and leaner facial profile, as compared to its other bear cousins. Their feet allow for crawling on all fours and standing upright, as the fore feet are digitigrade and their rear feet are plantigrade.
The brown bear's fur is thick and long. Fur color and tone can differ greatly among subspecies. The grizzlies are nearly black or a deep, dark brown and some are even creamy or yellowish in tone. The Syrian brown bear however, has a very light brown to tan coloring, quite different from its European and American cousins.

Habitat and Food of the Brown Bear

Brown bears are found in nearly all parts of the world. With the exception of Australia and South America, they can be found on every continent. Due to diverse geographical location and factors, their habitat can range from lush forests and mountainous regions to meadows and valleys.
These mighty beasts are easily the top predator in any food chain. Being omnivorous in nature, they will eat meat and vegetables, according to seasonal availability.
Nuts, berries, roots, tubers, seeds and leaves as well as fruit count among their vegetable sources. With meat, they can eat moose and deer among larger prey and even small animals like squirrels, rodents and foxes. Their large size does not hinder their speed.
Brown bears can reach speeds of 30 miles per hour. Fishing is a favorite hunting pastime amongst the American subspecies, salmon being a particular favorite.

Typical Behavior of the Brown Bear

Due to their unchallenged position at the top of the food chain, brown bears lead a solitary existence.
They rarely collect in groups unless for fishing, where they compete for the catch. They use their powerful claws to dig deep dens, preferably in hillsides. Females prepare a den during the winter months, the usual time for birth.
The cubs are born in the approaching spring. The cubs are completely dependent on their mother and will stay with her for at least 1-2 years, when they can fend for themselves. Males are never interested in their offspring but the mother is fiercely protective of her young.
In fact, an angry mother can take on a number of predators and is very deadly. This is why human encounters with cubs or bear young can take a nasty turn, if the mother approaches.
Though not recognized officially as an endangered species, the brown bear is threatened in certain local habitats, due to deforestation and increase in human activity in certain areas.
Poaching for skin and claws is also carried out in some parts of the world. The brown bear facts should help underline the need for conservation of this powerful denizen of the hills and the forests.