A sloth bear is a solitary mammal found in the tropical forests of Asia. It has a long snout, and its claws can be used to grasp opportunities for climbing trees in order to feed on termites and honey.
They also hunt for fruit and feed on ants, bees, and termites. They are considered equally dangerous as tigers.
Sloth bears are omnivores, just like humans, but they have serious sweet tooth. The main diet is insects, but they also eat grass, honey, and fruit.
Sloth Bear Facts for Kids
- On average they live for 40 years
- They can weigh between 200 and 300 pounds
- They are excellent tree climbers
- Their predators include tigers, wild dogs, wolves, leopards
- They live in forests and tall grasslands in India, Sri Lanka, and southern Nepal.
Sloth Bear’s Physical Appearance
They have a shaggy and dusty black coat with a short muzzle and long curved claws. They use the claws to dig for termites and ants. You’ll notice a cream-colored V-shape on their chest.
On closer observation, you may notice that the adult bears do not have incisors in order to allow them to suck up insects easily. Since they primarily eat insects and fruit, their teeth are much smaller than other bears.
Sloth Bears Live in Asia
These creatures are fairly versatile and can thrive in the forest and some grasslands. They prefer to live in places that provide shelter and can be found in Sri Lanka, India, and Nepal. They’ve been reported to have been spotted in Bhutan and Bangladesh, but it’s unclear whether they are still present in those areas.
Protective and Strong
As noisy, busy animals, they grunt and snort as they hunt for food. Since their diet is primarily plants and bugs, they don’t have to sneak up on their prey.
They sleep during the day and hunt for food at night.
They can defend themselves when threatened, though. Their large forepaws have long claws to use as a defense. Potential predators include tigers, jackals, wild dogs, wolves, and leopards.
Habitat loss is a serious threat, as it is for a lot of animals.
Sloth Bears Carry Their Young
They are protective of their cubs and will carry their young on their back for up to the first nine months of life. You can occasionally see other bear species with the cubs riding, but this is not as common. Sloth bears are the only species that regularly transport their cubs in this manner. There are a few reasons why they do this.
The first is that carrying the cubs this way allows the mother to protect their young easily. The female bear has been seen fighting off tigers while having cubs still riding on their backs.
One of Eight Bear Species
There are eight bear species currently existing in the world today. Sloth bears are one of them, although they split off from the other species approximately four million years ago. The result of this split is that they are unique and unusual. They’re considered myrmecophagous, which means that they specialize in eating ants and termites.
Termite nests provided up about half of their diet, and the other half is made up of fruits and seeds. Many of their unique traits, which sets them apart from others, is due to their being myrmecophagous.
They Hide to Give Birth
When a female is pregnant, she will go into a den in order to give Birth. However, during this time period, she will not come out of the den for food or water for up to eight weeks. When she eventually emerges, she will leave the sloth bear cubs behind and get food and water before returning.
After about two weeks of leaving them in the den alone, the mother will emerge with the cubs in tow and begin to take them with her on her back.
They Have Exceptionally Long Claws
When it comes to their body size, they have incredibly long claws. They primarily use these claws to dig into termite mounds or to dig for other insects or seeds. They also can come in handy when they have to fight off a predator. Surprisingly though, their footprints tend to resemble human footprints, and you may not notice the difference unless you look closely.
They are Primarily Nocturnal
Although they can be active at any time of the day or night, they are the most nocturnal of all the living bear species. They prefer to be most active at dawn, dusk, and at night. Tigers, however, can be active during both the day and night, so this is not a habit that helps to protect them against predators.
They’re a Protected Species
It’s estimated that there are less than 20,000 in the wild today. They are now legally protected. It’s also illegal to trade them internationally. Due to their deteriorating habitat, many programs have risen with the goal to conserve them and keep them safe in the wild.
The population has grown when they live in a high-profile reserve that protects species. While historically, they could be captured and used for entertainment, the government of India has banned using them in this way. Many rescue facilities will take ones used for entertainment with the goal of rehabilitating them.
They Can Be Aggressive with Humans
As humans encroach on their natural habitat, they will enter human areas in search of food. Although they are fairly solitary creatures, they will be aggressive when facing a conflict. Their long claws, which are designed for optimal digging, make it more difficult for them to escape danger in the trees, such as other bear species.
This is likely why they are more prone to attacking rather than hiding when coming into conflict. Although they are known for being aggressive around humans, it’s likely that most of these encounters have happened accidentally when one comes across a human accidentally.
They Have Multiple Names
Although the common terminology for them is sloth bear in English, there are numerous local names. These can include rinchh, bhalu, kaddi, and many others. It’s likely that their numerous names came from various areas as well as dialects.
They Are Literary Figures
Early authors were fascinated by them and frequently included them in their books. However, one of the most notable references is in Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book,” which features Baloo, a sleepy bear. He is responsible for teaching the law of the jungle to wolf cubs as well as Mowgli.
Although Kipling doesn’t specifically refer to Baloo as being a sloth bear, his description is most consistent with this bear. Additionally, the novel takes place in Seoni, where brown and Asian black bears do not live. He also refers to the bear as eating roots, nuts, and honey.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do Sloth Bears have huge claws?
The oversized claws are used in order to dig into the dense, steep rainforest terrain when they’re searching for prey. These claws are also a defensive measure against predators as they have no other way of defending themselves.
What do Sloths Bears eat besides fruit?
They like to eat insects, leaves, and nectar from the flowering trees.
Are sloth bears dangerous to humans?
They are not considered dangerous to humans, as they rarely attack and are more likely to flee from the source of the problem.
What are sloth bear babies called?
A baby is called a cub.
Can a sloth bear kill a tiger
No, a sloth bear couldn’t kill a tiger.
Are sloth bears aggressive?
They are not aggressive. They have been known to attack humans, but they usually do so when their habitat is encroached upon by the humans or when they come in close contact with humans that get too close to their young.
What sort of bear is Baloo?
Baloo, from the Disney animated film The Jungle Book (1967) and its sequels, is a sloth bear.