Black Bear Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Bonnie Pluta

Bonnie has taught at the elementary and middle school level and has a master's degree in Child and Family Studies.

Read this lesson to learn all about the American black bear, one of the eight bear species. Find out what they look like, what they eat, and other interesting facts.

What is Does a Black Bear Look Like?

Did you ever have a stuffed teddy bear? Teddy bears were named after President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt. Roosevelt refused to shoot a captured American black bear in Mississippi. Once word got out about this, a toy maker named a cuddly stuffed bear after him. Whether you think of bears as cute creatures or 'beary' scary, the American black bear is an interesting animal.

Bears can climb trees!
tree bear

American black bears have short tails and short, sharp claws that are good for climbing trees. Adults typically weigh between 200 and 600 pounds, with males weighing a lot more than females. Most American black bears are black, of course! Although some are various shades of brown, reddish, gray, or even white. The white American black bear is this color due to recessive gene expression and is also known as a 'spirit bear'.

Black bears are not always black.
bear in tree

Habitat and Diet

American black bears range from Canada, much of the United States, and as far south as northern Mexico. There is another species of black bear, known as the Asiatic black bear, which can be found in Asia.

Like humans, bears are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals. They are also considered opportunistic eaters because they will eat what is available to them. A bear that lives near a lot of berry patches will eat berries. If it happens across a stream filled with fish it will try to catch one. Bears will climb trees to eat nuts, honey, or bee larvae. A bear will also steal your food if you leave it out while camping, or rummage through your trash!


A black bear waking up from a winter sleep.

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