Sun Bears - Sun Bear Facts, Habitat

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Sun Bears

Sun bears (Malayan) are the least well known of all bear species and they have two scientific names currently in use Ursus malayanus and Herlarctos malayanus. Historically Sun Bears were found in Eastern Tibet and Sichuan China. Pleistocene fossils were found on the island of Java, however, today they are no longer found on the island of Java.

Sun Bear - Malayan (Ursus/Helarctos malayanus) sometimes called simply Sun Bear (picture right, the smallest of all bears is found in the tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia. The Sun Bear is the smallest and best representative of its family which has adapted to a tree-inhabiting way of life.

The Malayan Sun Bear has a mustard-coloured crescent on its chest and close-cropped brown or black fur. A full-grown animal reaches a body length from approximately 100 to 150 centimetres.

Sun Bear

The Sun Bears weight varies between 27 and 65 kilograms, with the males clearly heavier than the females. It is mainly active at night and rests during the day on a platform of branches which it makes high in the trees. Sun Bears are skilful climbers and as agile as a monkey.

They have a very long tongue which is probably an adaptation for extracting honey and insects from deep crevices in the trees. Insects are the main diet of the Sun Bear but they will also eat fruits, coconuts and other plant material.

In addition to insects and fruit, Sun Bears also consume small vertebrate animals such as rodents, birds, lizards and sometimes also carrion. Very little is known about the reproductive biology of the species. In the wild, it appears that Sun Bear cubs may be born at any time of year.

In captive the animalís gestation periods have been found to range from 95 to 240 days and, as with other bears, this is the result of delayed implantation and gives little idea as to the female's most receptive periods. Litters contain one or two young, each weighing 325g. The habitat of the Sun Bear is generally forest, and its home is warm all year round. For that reason, the Sun Bear does not need to hibernate and form a den for the winter.
The Sun Bear has a white spot
in the centre of the chest,
the function of which is uncler.

Sun Bear Picture

Today the Sun Bears distribution is limited to the larger areas of native forest and the surviving populations are mainly small in size. They learn to avoid gardens and fruit plantations, but often come into conflict with humans in those areas when natural foods become scarce.

Sun Bear Habitat

In some places Sun Bears are considered good pets but they often become uncontrollable after 3 or 4 years, and are then either abandoned or killed. Because its Asian tropical rainforest homes are being destroyed at an alarming rate the Sun Bear may be declining faster than any other bear and will probably disappear from some areas. In the wild the Sun Bear is often cited as one of the most dangerous animals of the species.

Sun Bear Facts
  • Name: Sun Bear (Ursus or Helarctos malayanus))
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Vertebrata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Subclass: Theria
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Ursidae
  • Length of life: About 25 years in zoos. In the wild unknown
  • Size: 120 to 150 cm
  • Weight: 27 to 65 kg males
    Males are 10 to 20 per cent larget than females
  • Habitat: Lowland tropical rainforests
  • Diet: Termites, small mammals, palm trees, bees' nests, birds
  • Gestation: 3 to 6 months
  • Cubs: 1 to 2 cubs
  • SubFamily: Ursinae
  • Genus: Helarctos
  • Sun Bear Predators: Humans and ocasionally leopard, tigers, reticulated pythons and asiatic black bear.
  • Distribution: Southheast Asia: Malaysia, Borneo, Sumatra, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh and Burma
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