Brown Bear Adaptations: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

Brown bears are pretty powerful creatures, but how did they get to be that way? Come and learn about some of these adaptations that allow them to survive and thrive in their environment.

Strength & Size

Did you know that the average fully grown male brown bear can weigh anywhere between 500 and 1,000 pounds? That's more than a grand piano! They are also typically anywhere between 5.5 and 10 feet long. Needless to say, we are talking about some pretty large creatures here.

Brown bears have virtually no predators, with the exception of human beings. This means that they're at a pretty big advantage when it comes to quality of life because they don't have any other animals trying to eat them. After all, who would honestly try to approach a gigantic brown bear? They are pretty intimidating. In fact, people often misunderstand brown bears standing up as an attack stance, when they're actually just looking around. When a brown bear is standing, this normally means that it is checking out its surroundings, smelling around or testing out the wind.

This brown bear is not attacking, it is just checking things out

Since brown bears are at the top of the food chain, their prey can vary in size. They eat anything from plants and berries to squirrels and moose. When they eat larger animals, they need muscles in order to be able to attack. Luckily, brown bears have no shortage of muscle - they're incredibly strong animals. In fact, they're able to break some of their largest preys' necks with one blow! One of their strongest muscles is the shoulder hump, which gives bears a lot of their power.

Look at that big shoulder hump muscle!


Do not mistake the enormous size of the brown bear as a sign that it is slow. In fact, it is just the opposite. Brown bears are actually agile, meaning that they can move quickly and easily. Remember that shoulder hump muscle? Well, it helps their front legs be super strong so that they can run up to speeds of 35 miles per hour. They also use these legs to swim; fast running and swimming are both adaptations that help bears hunt.

In addition to their legs, brown bears have other body parts that have been adapted for survival. One of their most important body parts is the long claws that they use to dig and catch food. While they aren't super sharp, bears' claws are sharp enough to pierce salmon and fish (which are some of their favorite foods). Brown bears also use their claws to dig their dens, which are holes dug into the side of a hill.

Brown bear claws

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