Bonnie has taught at the elementary and middle school level and has a master's degree in Child and Family Studies.
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.
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'.
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!
Have you ever heard of hibernation? This is when certain animals become inactive and their heart rate, breathing, and metabolism get very slow and their temperature lowers. This happens during cold winter months and allows the animal to survive the cold and lack of food. Bears are famous for hibernating, but guess what! Black bears don't even truly hibernate according to some scientists. Black bears do sleep a lot through the winter and can even go for 100 days without eating, drinking, urinating, or having a bowel movement. However, their body temperature doesn't lower as much as most hibernators. Instead, they are considered to be in a deep winter sleep, rather than hibernating. Some scientists disagree, and just think this is a different type of hibernation.
Family Life and Threats
Bears usually live alone, except for mother bears and her cubs. A mother bear usually has two cubs at a time but can have only one or up to five. The cubs stay with their mother to learn how to survive until they are about one and a half years old. Then they will each go their own way.
The American black bear is fairly common. It is the most common bear in North America, and its only threat is humans. Bears can live to be about thirty years old but most don't live past fifteen or twenty years in the wild due to human activity, such as hunting. Still, these bears are not currently at risk for endangerment.
There are two types of black bear in the world: the American black bear and the Asiatic black bear. The American black bear is the most common bear in North America. These bears eat a variety of food, are good at climbing trees, and sleep throughout the winter.
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