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Amazing Facts About the Sun Bear

Rohini Mohan
The Sun bear is the smallest as well as the rarest species among the bear species. One of the most spectacular Sun bear facts is that the animal has a golden crescent shaped fur patch on its chest, which is perhaps why it's named after the sun.
The Sun bear Ursidae Helarctos Malayanus is one of the smallest as well as the rarest bear species found on earth. It is an exceptionally attractive animal and is distinct because of the golden crescent on its chest and its golden face. From a distance, the crescent looks like a thick golden necklace on jet black fur.
The necklace like fur adorns this bear, almost as if to display its stature and royalty in the animal kingdom. These bears, like all other bear species found on earth, have been extensively hunted down by poachers. They are murdered for their fur and other body parts, which are sold for making designer accessories and so-called medicines!
These medicines have not been proved to have any actual healing properties and are used as a facade to hunt these vulnerable animals. Even though bear poaching has been banned all over the world, it continues to take place at an incredulously alarming rate.

Honey Bear Habitat

✰ These bears are found only in the Southeast Asian subcontinent and are scattered in small numbers all over Laos, Borneo, Sumatra Islands, Bangladesh, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Cambodia.
✰ They are found only in the rainforests of these countries and prefer living in secluded terrains. They feel safer in rugged landscapes where human habitation and access is very low.
✰ Their biggest predators are humans, which is why they fear us and feel threatened by human presence. They are believed to be extremely ferocious and can attack without provocation, in spite of their small size.
✰ However, many sun bears are bred as pets, because of their small size and loving nature. When tamed, they make affectionate pets while many are bred under captivity in order to save some of their species.

Physical Characteristics

✰ The reason why the Sun bear is the smallest bear species in the world is because it reaches its maximum size at a mere 150 cm or 60 inches in length. On the contrary the Polar bear is the biggest bear species found on earth.
✰ The males are larger in size and weight more than the females. The males weigh between 50-70 kg and the females weigh between 20-40 kg.
✰ The fur is short and thick unlike other bears. The coat keeps rain, mud and insects at bay. The tropical climate makes their fur smoother and shinier than most species of bear.
✰ This bear has an extremely long tongue, which is about 9-10 inches long! The animal uses its narrow and long tongue to remove honey out of bee hives. Which is why it is also called the, Honey Bear. The bear uses its tongue to extract insects from inside tree barks, other crevices.
✰ They have long curved claws on all four limbs, which are used for climbing, foraging, grooming, hunting and attacking predators.
✰ These bears are excellent tree climbers, because they are not only fast but very skilled at their climbing technique. Being light weighted helps climb trees faster and keeps them secure on thin branches as well.
✰ The bear has a tail as well which is about 2-2.5 inches long.
✰ The animal stands upright on its flat hinds, when it is looking at objects at a distance or when it is threatened. This stance is a warning for predators to not come any closer.
✰ These bears have a distinct pigeon-toed walk because their feet are turned slightly inwards.
✰ They also have the sharpest sense of hearing as compared to all the other bear species.
✰ Along with the tongue, the sun bear has exceptionally long and sharp teeth. It uses its teeth for biting into tree barks, branches, and small animals such as birds, lizards, etc.

Breeding Habit

✰ These bears do not have any specific mating time because they do not hibernate.
✰ The gestation period lasts for about 150 days and sometimes takes longer depending on the completion of the implantation cycle.
✰ Usually not more than 1 cub is born per pregnancy. The cub is born blind, is extremely small in size and is completely hairless.
✰ The cub develops very quickly and is strong enough to forage with its mother by the time its 1-2 months old.
✰ Since these bears are nocturnal, the foraging takes place only at nighttime.
✰ These bears like living in solitude and are territorial. Thus, it is not often that you'll find a male and female together.
✰ The age of a sun bear can be identified by the number of rings in its teeth. The same process is followed in order to study the age of tree by counting the rings in its trunk.
These bears seem to live longer under captivity because they are safer and fed properly. A sad fact is, that even though they have been enlisted as vulnerable species since 1978, their population is continuing to dwindle. The average lifespan in the wild is 12-15 years and 25-28 years when under captivity.