Information Regarding the Different Types of Bears in the World
Although there are several species and subspecies of bears, there are only nine different types of bears. One of these types simply consists of hybrid variations of breeds from other types, so it is not commonly recognized. This article takes a look at the eight primary types of bears in the world and provides a general overview for the reader.
The American Black Bear
A species unto itself, the American black bear is the smallest type of bear in North America, but has several subspecies, including the Mexican black bear, the cinnamon bear, the glacier bear, and the Olympic black bear to name a few. This type of bear is an omnivore, able to eat berries or eat depending on availability. While some bears are on the endangered list, the American black bear is not; its global spread has ensured the species’ survival.
The Asian Black Bear
The Asian black bear is a species of bear, medium in size. It is comprised of a few subspecies that are each distinguished by variations in size and fur. Although these bears are mostly herbivores, they have been known to attack and kill human beings without any provocation whatsoever. Since they are arboreal creatures, massive deforestation and hunting has resulted in them being listed as a vulnerable species.
The Brown Bear
The brown bear species consists of some of the largest bears in the world, the largest subspecies being the Kodiak bear. Brown bears are typically found in Russia, North America, and the Carpathian region. Since they are primarily carnivorous, size can vary due to the availability of fresh meat and fish. A well-fed brown bear can way over 1,500 lbs, however.
The Giant Panda
Perhaps the most easily recognized species of bear in the world, the giant panda is comprised of two distinct subspecies. These bears live in central to southwestern parts of China and their diets consist primarily of bamboo. Only 1% of their diet is bananas, honey, yams, or fish. Considered a “conservation reliant endangered species,” there are only approximately 1,500 giant pandas living in the wild today. Efforts are in place to breed them in captivity, but have been met with only limited success.
The Sloth Bear
One of the lesser known types of bear in the world, the sloth bear is comprised of two subspecies and is found only on the Indian subcontinent. Boasting some unusual behaviors, the sloth bear is nocturnal in nature and prefers to have a diet that consists of insects. Although similar to Asian bear subspecies, the sloth bear has a shaggier coat, larger build, white claws, and a bulbous nose. One of the subspecies has shorter hair, and this gives the bear the appearance of being lanky.
The Sun Bear
The sun bear, or honey bear as it is also called, lives primarily in the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia. The smallest member of the bear family, the sun bear is typically only 4 ft in length. Its diet consists of everything from fresh hive honey to small lizards. Because it has very poor eyesight, this bear species must rely on its excellent sense of smell to hunt and forage.
The Polar Bear
Residing largely in the Arctic Circle, the polar bear is one of the most beloved types of bear in the world. Since their habitat is primarily ice land, global warming is wreaking havoc on the polar bear population. As it is, these bears have a short lifespan in the wild because as they get older it is more and more difficult for them to hunt for food. Scientists predict that if global warming rates continue as they currently are, the polar bear’s natural habitat will be largely gone in the next 100 years or so.
The Spectacled Bear
The spectacled bear is the last of the short-faced bears in the world. Its name comes from the bear’s unusual and striking fur coloration; the body is primarily black but the face and chest sport bright golden fur that encircles the eyes, giving the impression of the bear wearing black sunglasses. This species originates in South America, and is sometimes referred to as the Andean bear because of its close proximity to the Andes mountains.