Did you know that bears are also referred to as “Ursids?”
These large carnivores are part of the Ursidae family and consist of 3 different extant subfamilies. There’s also a wide variety of extinct species of which remains have been discovered all around the world.
These subfamilies include:
In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at the 8 different types of bears that are still roaming around in the world today!
Types of bears in the world
1. Giant Panda
The Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is the only extant member of the subfamily Ailuropodinae and is one of the most distinct bears on the planet. It has a black and white body with prominent black patches around its eyes. Even though it’s considered to be a carnivore, the Giant Panda only eats bamboo.
This huge bear is native to south-central China. It grows between 150 and 180 centimeters (59 and 71 inches) long and weighs anywhere between 80 and 123 kilos (176 and 271 lbs).
2. Spectacled Bear
The Spectacled Bear (Tremarctos ornatus) is the only extant member of the subfamily Tremarctinae and is also commonly referred to as the Andean bear, the Andean short-faced bear, or the mountain bear. As you surely guessed, this bear is native to the Andes Mountains in South America.
This type of bear has a varied diet and eats fruits, palm trees, and various types of mammals. It grows anywhere between 120 and 200 centimeters (47 and 79 inches) long and weighs between 60 and 175 kilos (132 and 386 lbs) on average.
3. American Black Bear
The American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) is the smallest type of bear in North America and also the most common bear species in the area. They have an even more varied diet as they eat vegetation, roots, buds, fruit, nuts, insects, fish, mammals, and even carrion.
They grow anywhere between 120 and 200 centimeters (47 and 79 inches) long and weigh between 39 and 409 kilos (86 and 902 lbs). There are a total of 16 different subspecies roaming around in North America, which is the reason why the weight varies quite a bit on average.
4. Asian Black Bear
The Asian Black Bear (Ursus thibetanus) is also referred to as the Asiatic black bear, moon bear, or white-chested bear, which lives in a large number of countries in Asia, including Tibet, India, the Korean Peninsula, northeastern China, the Far East of Russia, the Honshū and Shikoku islands of Japan, and Taiwan.
What’s remarkable about the Asian Black Bear is that their chest is white and they have adapted an arboreal lifestyle, which means they can often be found hanging out in trees. They are true omnivores that eat vegetation, insects, fruit, nuts, ungulates, and livestock. They can grow between 120 and 180 centimeters (47 and 71 inches) long and weigh between 65 and 150 kilos (143 and 331 lbs).
5. Brown Bear
The Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) is perhaps one of the best-known bear species in the world. They live all across Eurasia and North America and are referred to as “Grizzly Bears” in North America. It’s one of the biggest types of bears in the world as well.
This particular bear can grow anywhere between 100 and 280 centimeters (39 and 110 inches) and weigh between 80 and 550 kilos (176 and 1,213 lbs). They also have an extremely varied diet and are true omnivores that feed on grasses, herbs, roots, berries, nuts, insects, mammals, and fish
6. Polar Bear
The Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) is the closest relative of the Brown Bear and is the biggest bear species in the world. They can grow between 220 and 244 centimeters (87 and 96 inches) long and weigh anywhere between 408 and 726 kilos (900 and 1,600 lbs), an incredibly heavy animal!
These bears are ferocious hunters and eat various large mammals, including seals, walruses, and beluga whales. In case these are not available they also eat birds, fish, vegetation, and various types of seaweeds. Their completely white appearance makes them one of the best-recognized types of bears on the planet.
7. Sun Bear
The Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus) is native to the tropical forests of Southeast Asia and is, therefore, the most arboreal of all types of bears. Their range runs all the way from the northeastern part of India through Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. Their range ends in the south in Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
These are relatively small bears which makes them very suitable to live in the trees. They grow to a length between 120 and 150 centimeters (47 and 59 inches) and weigh anywhere between 35 and 80 kilos (77 and 176 lbs). Their diet mostly consists of termites, ants, beetle larvae, bee larvae, honey, and fruit.
8. Sloth Bear
The Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus) is native to the Indian subcontinent and has a distinctive lower lip which it can use to suck up insects. Therefore, it’s sometimes referred to as the “labiated bear” as well. It’s no surprise that the main food of these bears is termites and insects, as well as various types of fruit.
These bears are also relatively small compared to some of the bigger bear species. They grow anywhere between 150 and 180 centimeters (59 and 71 inches) and weigh between 54 and 141 kilos (119 and 311 lbs). Unfortunately, their habitat has diminished tremendously and they are listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.