8 Bear Species in the World

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Bear Species

According to fossil records and historical data, there were hundreds of bear species many years ago that spread across the world on all continents apart from Australia and Antarctica.

Due to extinction and other factors, there are only eight (8) bear species left worldwide which spread in South and North America, Asia, and Europe.

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Bears are mammals from the family Ursidae and are classified as caniforms. If you are there scratching your head out wondering what these species could be, here is a description of some of them.

Table of Contents

1. North American Black Bear

One of the most familiar bears in North America is the North American Black Bear that dominates north Florida parts, well into Canada and the north of Alaska. This majestic beast is also omnivorous, with its diet comprising mostly of vegetables.

At around eight years, the male North American Black Bears reaches complete maturity. In the boreal forest areas, females produce babies from 5 – 7 years.

Males can weigh up to 600 lbs. (280 kg), and sometimes a lot weightier. Black bears can survive in the wild for close to 25 years. Older North American Black bears have been reported, but many don’t reach old age because of human presence (hunting).

North American Black Bear classification

KingdomAnimal
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
SubclassTheria
InfraclassEutheria
OrderCarnivora
SuborderFissipedia
FamilyUrsidae
SubfamilyUrsinae 
GenusUrsus
SubgenusEuarctos
SpeciesAmericanus
Scientific nameUrsus americanus

Colors of the North American Black

The colors of the North American Bear include:

  • Black
  • Bluish-black
  • Brown
  • Blond
  • Cinnamon
  • White
  • Blue-gray

2. Brown Bear

You can find Brown Bears in Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, Washington, and western Canada.

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Small populations have become distributed across many parts of Asia and Europe. Presently, there is reportedly a stable brown bear population in Russia.

Size varies considerably according to the location and availability of food in general.

These large bears dominate the coast of Russia and Alaska and continue to increase in size, even besting the Polar Bear.

Brown Bear classification

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
SubclassTheria
InfraclassEutheria
OrderCarnivora
SuborderCarnivora Bowdich
FamilyUrsidae
SubfamilyUrsinae 
GenusUrsus
SubgenusEuarctos
SpeciesU. arctos
Scientific nameUrsus arctos

Colors of the Brown Bear

The colors of the Brown Bear include:

  • Black
  • Brown
  • Blond
  • Pale tan
  • Gold
  • Gray
  • Silver

3. Polar Bear

Polar bears are one of the world’s biggest bears, with an adult male reaching 1760 lbs (800 kg). One of the largest male Polar bear captured in Ontario weighed about 1439 lbs (654 kg).

Nonetheless, an average male Polar bear in Ontario can measure up to 1100 lbs (500 kg). On the other hand, an adult female bear can weigh up to 660 lbs (300kg) and typically have a maximum weight of about 880lbs (400 kg).

Polar Bear classification

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
SubclassTheria
InfraclassEutheria
OrderCarnivora
SuborderCaniformia
FamilyUrsidae
SubfamilyUrsinae
GenusUrsus
SpeciesU. maritimus
Scientific nameUrsus maritimus

Colors of Polar Bear

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The colors of Polar Bear include:

  • White
  • Green

4. Asiatic Black Bear

Asiatic black bears possess a long black coat with a prominent white patch on the chest that is sometimes crescent-shaped. The fur is incredibly long around the shoulders and throat, and their ears are relatively broad.

Asian black bears can be found in eastern Asia, including Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Cambodia, Japan, China,  Iran, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Myanmar,  Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Taiwan, the Russian Federation, and some parts of Vietnam.

While only a small portion of their diet is made up of meat, Asian black bears are more carnivorous than their Western counterparts. Their diet includes small mammals, fish, birds, mollusks, and carcasses. They are also known to feed on fruits, grasses, seeds, berries, honey, and insects.

They fatten up for the winter by eating plenty of nuts in autumn. They hibernate in northern climates but remain active in the southern climate.

Asiatic Black Bear classification

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
SubclassTheria
InfraclassEutheria
OrderCarnivora
SuborderCaniformia
FamilyUrsidae
SubfamilyUrsinae
GenusUrsus
SpeciesUrsus thibetanus
Scientific nameUrsus thibetanus

Colors of Asiatic Black Bear

The colors of Asiatic Black Bear include:

  • Black
  • Brown
  • Yellow
  • Cream
  • White

5. Andean Bear or Spectacled Bear

Most scientists referred to Spectacled bears as Andean bears because they are only found in the Andes mountains in South America. These bears are an endangered species, categorized as vulnerable, and killing them is illegal.

Technically, the Spectacled Bear is the largest carnivore on land on that continent, with its diet consisting of 5% meat.

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While not all Spectacled bears have “spectacle” markings, the species usually has distinctive beige-colored patches around its upper chest and face. On each bear, the pattern and degree of pale markings are relatively different. This can easily be used to differentiate these bears.

Male Andean bears are larger than females in both height and weight. Males can weigh up to 220-440 lbs (100-200 kilograms), while the females weigh 77-181 lbs (35-82 kilograms).

This species has a more rounded face and a comparatively short and broad snout than other modern bears.

This facial structure has been presumed to be an adaptation to a predominantly carnivorous diet in some extinct species of the Tremarctinae subfamily, considering the herbivorous dietary requirements of the modern Spectacled bears.

Spectacled Bear classification

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
SubclassTheria
InfraclassEutheria
OrderCarnivora
SuborderCaniformia
FamilyUrsidae
SubfamilyUrsinae
GenusUrsidae
SpeciesUrsus thibetanus
Scientific nameTremarctos Ornatus

Colors of Spectacled Bear

The colors of Spectacled Bear include:

  • Black
  • Dark brown
  • Reddish-hue

6. Panda Bear

The giant panda is a rare bear that is listed as endangered.  Scientists formerly believed that the giant panda was a member of the family of raccoons but was proven wrong with DNA analysis.

 Surprisingly, there is no relation between the giant panda and the red panda.  Giant pandas are renowned for their craving for bamboo, a diet that is so low in nutrition that the pandas have to eat up to 20 kg per day.

The extra digit on the hand of the panda allows them to rip the bamboo. Their gut is protected against splinters by a thick coat of mucus.

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The largest cause of the giant panda’s depletion is habitat loss. Today, their range is confined to six different mountain ranges in western China.

Giant pandas are born pink, blind, hairless, and are 1/900th their mother’s size. Giant pandas, unlike other bears, do not hibernate.

They switch to lower elevations in the winter to remain warm while moving to higher altitudes to stay cool in the summer. Giant pandas can be seen active at any time of the day.

Panda Bear classification

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
SubclassTheria
InfraclassEutheria
OrderCarnivora
SuborderCarnivora Bowdich
FamilyUrsidae
SubfamilyUrsinae 
GenusAiluropoda
SubgenusEuarctos
SpeciesA. melanoleuca
Scientific nameAiluropoda melanoleuca

Colors of Panda Bear

The colors of Panda Bear include:

  • White
  • Black

7. Sloth bear

From long distances, these thick-haired bears can be heard slurping termites. Sloth bears stout-looking, with shaggy, black fur and a Y- or U- shaped pattern on their chest.

They have long tongues, big lips, pale muzzles, and hook-like claws, making climbing trees and searching for termites a lot easier.

These remarkable creatures live in Parts of Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh.

Sloth bears are nocturnal mammals and inhabit home ranges that are cheerfully shared with other sloth bears. The total range for male sloth bears is 13 square km.

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This is smaller than other bears, presumably because they don’t struggle from seasonal food supply fluctuations. Ultimately, ants and termites are available throughout the year.

The sustained availability of termites and ants means that they don’t have to go into winter hibernation.

Sloth Bear classification

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
SubclassTheria
InfraclassEutheria
OrderCarnivora
SuborderCaniformia
FamilyUrsidae
SubfamilyUrsinae 
GenusMelursus
SubgenusEuarctos
SpeciesMelursus ursinus
SubspeciesMelursus ursinus inornatus and Melursus ursinus Ursinus
Scientific nameAiluropoda melanoleuca

Colors of Sloth Bear

The colors of Sloth Bear include:

  • Dusty-black
  • White

8. Sun Bear

Sun bears are the smallest bear species with short, water-repelling fur with a yellow crescent on their chests.

With exposed soles and long sickle-shaped claws, the Sun bear has powerful paws.

They possess flexible snouts and elongated languages that are an adaptation of termites extraction.

They have the biggest canines of all the bear species. These canine teeth are used in tearing meat; however, these bears are not carnivorous. Their sharp canines can be used as weapons or as means to tear trees to extract insects.

Sun bears can be found in China, Cambodia, India, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic.

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Sun Bear classification

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
SubclassTheria
InfraclassEutheria
OrderCarnivora
SuborderCaniformia
FamilyUrsidae
SubfamilyUrsinae 
GenusHelarctos
SubgenusEuarctos
SpeciesHelarctos malayanus
Scientific nameHelarctos malayanus

Colors of Sun Bear

The colors of Sloth Bear include:

  • Black
  • Orange
  • Gray
Total
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