Although they appear slow and clumsy, both young and adult sloth bears are excellent climbers. The sloth bear is largely insectivorous (insect-eating), and has a number of adaptations for hunting insects such as termites. Farmers also sometimes kill bears that raid their sugarcane or cornfields. Many other animals that primarily consume ants also carry their young on their backs. The same substance, ursodeoxycholic acid, can be produced in the laboratory, and this synthetic version has proven to be a safer and more humane alternative for medical use. Personality and temperament 7. This practice of capturing sloth bears to be used as dancing bears may still take place in neighboring countries. Support organizations like the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute that research better ways to protect and care for this animal and other endangered species. As far back as the early 1970s, they studied sloth bears in the wild in Nepal. Due to their diet of insects and fruit, their premolars and molars are smaller than those of other bears, but they have large canines to use for defense. As an adaptation for this creepy-crawly diet, the bear has few hairs on its nose and can open and close its nostrils as needed. They occasionally will climb to feed and to rest, though not to escape enemies, as they prefer to stand their ground. Bhopal: Yarlen, one of the most notorious poachers of tigers and sloth bears, is finally in custody again after absconding for six years. She digs a den or prepares space in a cave. Cubs will nurse for about a year. Termites are their favorite food, and they use their keen sense of smell to locate termite mounds. … While embryonic development takes approximately two months, gestation lasts four to seven months due to delayed implantation. Even though it is omnivorous and dines on fruit when available, the sloth bear also eats termites and ants. They are capable of galloping faster than running humans. Emitting noisy grunts and snorts, it wanders alone, usually at night, in search of insects and fresh fruit. Sloth bears exhibit low fecundity and high infant mortality. Now more than ever, we need your support. Their diet includes leaves, honey, flowers, and fruits. While it might have a bear of an appetite, the sloth bear has more in common with an anteater than other bears. They are also known to scale the occasional tree to knock down a bee honeycomb, which they will then enjoy on the ground below. Sloth bears have shaggy, dusty-black coats; pale, short-haired muzzles; and long, curved claws which they use to excavate termites and ants. All rights reserved. The first valid scientific description of this species was by George Shaw in 1791. They mostly eat buds, leaves, fruits, twigs and sometimes rodents and insects. Young sloth bears often play in water. Termites, dug out of their cement-hard nest mounds, and some ants are year-round staples. However, their diet is mostly termites and ants that they suck out of their nests, making very loud snuffling noises as they do so. When threatened they respond by standing on their hind legs and displaying their formidable foreclaws. A cream-colored “V” or “Y” shape usually marks their chests. The bears use their long, curved claws to rip open the termite mounds and slurp up the insects. Once they’ve opened a hole, they blow away excess dirt then noisily suck out the insects through a gap in their front teeth. Sloth bears feed predominantly on termites and ants and employ a well-evolved method to dig them out. While it’s debated whether or not wolves actively hunt down bears and eat them, bear fur has been found in wolf scat on… Sloth bears are omnivorous, although their diet typically includes a large proportion of insect foods. They could feed however from over 50 different kinds of tree in the tropical rainforests of Am… Spectacled Bears are listed as vulnerable on the World Conservation Union’s Red List of Threatened Species. That is, sloth bears never climb to escape predators. During the Pleistocene, the lazy bear was developed from ancestral brown bear and found in congenital growth i… Sloth bears are typically active for about eight to 14 hours each day, and they do not hibernate. They primarily eat termites and ants and have also been called "labiated bears" because of their long lower lip and palate used for sucking insects. Avoid buying products made from animals, which could support poaching and the illegal wildlife trade. They are currently considered extirpated, or no longer present, in Bangladesh and may also be absent from Bhutan. Mating occurs over several days to weeks and is very noisy. Sloth bears' nostrils can close completely, protecting the animals from dust or insects when raiding termite nests or beehives. Diving into the surf might help you get away from a swarm of bees if you're at the beach. They knock beehives out of trees and eat the honey and bee larvae. This article will answer common questions about sloths such as What do sloths eat?. In their habitat these are abundant and available all year long. Bear bile sells on the black market at $2 million for 5 kilograms. Emitting noisy grunts and snorts, it wanders alone, usually at night, in search of insects and fresh fruit. At the Zoo, they are offered food at least three times daily: a large morning meal, a large evening meal and one or more snacks throughout the day. Beetles, grubs and other insects round out their diet. Sloth bears climb trees and knock down honeycombs, later collecting the honey from the forest floor. Large, thick 3-inch (8-centimeter) claws come in handy for ripping apart termite nests in soil, old logs, or trees. The bile from their gall bladders is used in shampoo, eye drops, wine and medicine thought to cure liver disease and heart disease, improve eyesight and decrease high blood pressure. This keeps bugs from crawling up the bear's nose while it eats! Sloth bear mothers carry their cubs … He called it Ursine bradypus, ursine meaning bearlike and bradypus meaning slow foot. They also eat honey, sugarcane, flowers, fruits, eggs, and carrion. Sloth bears' nostrils can close completely, protecting the animals from dust or insects when raiding termite nests or beehives. But then you might enounter a smack of jellyfish or shiver of sharks. The Zoopendous Summer Interns’ Guide to D.C. 8 Aww-Inspiring Videos of the Year’s Best Animal and Conservation Stories. Today, most of the dancing bears have been rescued thanks to organizations like Wildlife SOS and WSPA-Wildlife Trust of India. Sloth Bears live in forests, grasslands, thorny woodlands and wet tropical areas, but their habitat is being destroyed and the bears are endangered. This alone should answer the question what do sloths eat? If threatened, they will stand on two legs, brandishing their clawed forepaws as weapons. They feed on termites, honeybee colonies and fruits. Sloth bears sometimes attack humans that encroach on their territory. Half the sloth bear's diet is termites, ants and beetle larvae. In the North American zoo population, births generally occur in late December to early January. Currently, Zoo scientists are also studying the behavior, welfare and cognitive abilities of sloth bears in human care. Shaggy, dusty, and unkempt, the reclusive sloth bear makes its home in the forests of South Asia. They rarely prey on other mammals, but they are considered omnivores. However, no reliable large-scale population survey has been conducted. They have a sweet tooth as well so the Sloth Bear can be found eating honey, sugarcane, and yams. Behavior & habitat 3. One of the most widespread misconceptions about bears is that they hibernate. The Sloth Bear is able to reproduce any time of the year, but the breeding season varies according to the place they live. Find resources to engage learners in grades preK-12 with science, the natural world, wildlife and conservation. Did you love what you learned about this animal? To prevent termites and ants from crawling into their noses to defend their nests, the sloth bear’s nostrils can close tightly as a barrier. They are threatened by habitat loss and are sometimes captured for use in performances or hunted because of their aggressive behavior and destruction of crops. We hope you will join us in this important work. They have a keen sense of smell, as well as near-sight similar to that of humans. Until recently, approximately 100 cubs were taken from the wild annually for this purpose. Sloth bears are poached from India and smuggled over the border for this practice. Termites are an especially abundant and reliable food source in the tropics. Time and additional specimens eventually revealed the true taxonomic relationships, but the confusing common name remains. Sloth bears breed during spring and early summer and give birth near the beginning of winter. Shaggy, dusty, and unkempt, the reclusive sloth bear makes its home in the forests of South Asia. They love their occasional meat tidbits of course but thrive mostly on ants, insects, fruits and wild berries. They wear an extremely shaggy black coat and a cream-colored snout, and their chest is usually marked with a whitish “V” or “Y” design. Diet of the Sloth Bear This species feeds primarily on insects, and scientists consider them insectivores. Sloth bears are solitary creatures and generally nocturnal. Fifteen years later, a second team of Smithsonian research associates took up the challenge. The breeding season for sloth bears varies according to location. One or two cubs (rarely three) are born in each litter in an underground den. Sloth bears are omnivorous, eating both plants and meat. Appearance & Characteristics 5. They also receive treats as enrichment, such as mealworms, crickets, nuts, coconut and honey. Zoo scientists have engaged in a wide-ranging set of studies in support of the conservation of endangered sloth bears in the wild. Occasionally they will eat the remains of a tiger kill. Their world was very different 100 years ago; extensive habitat remained, human settlements were scattered and relatively few bears were hunted. As a public health precaution due to COVID-19, all Smithsonian museums will temporarily close. In protected areas, for example, sloth bears may be more active during the day. History 2. Other sloth bears are captured for use as sideshow animals called "dancing bears." We will also discuss some amazing facts about this slow moving animal. Sloth bears are the world’s only bears built to eat ants. What do sloths eat? They are hunted by locals who believe they will eat their livestock, even though these bears do not eat large amounts of meat. Termites, dug out of their cement-hard nest mounds, and some ants are year-round staples. As animals who consume termites and ants, sloth bears are considered myrmecophagous. Poachers kill bears to harvest their gall bladders and other parts for use in traditional Asian medicine. Sloth bears are considered vulnerable animals. They also sometimes raid farm crops. © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, © 2015- Make it the topic of your next school project, or start a conservation club at your school. Coat & colors 6. The cubs spend their first three months in the safety of the den … Beside sloths, they hunt and eat … Sloth Bears also feed on honey, eggs, carrion, vegetation and fruits. 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. The cubs will often ride on their mother’s back, a unique trait among bears. 8. Fifty-three percent of males and 38 percent of females die as cubs. People in most of these countries are poor and it is not easy for them to care for animals and the environment. They are brave enough to face the land predators. Asia Trail is home to a male sloth bear named Niko. These organizations provide education and career training for tribe members in exchange for giving up their bears and agreeing to never again poach wildlife, thus ensuring a better life for both the humans and the bears. They also feed on fruits, roots, tubers, honey, eggs and flowers. The bears can do a lot of damage to cocoa plantations and coconut palms when they forage for food there. Sloth bears are sexually mature at age 3, but are rarely mothers until later in life. Sloths are considered as the slowest mammals, and this is attributed to their meager metabolic rates. Their large canines are used for defense against tigers. It is estimated that their population has declined by 30 to 49 percent in the last 30 years primarily due to habitat loss, but also because of poaching for parts, capture for trade and elimination as pests. They breed once every three years, more often if they have not given birth or have lost their cubs. The sloth bear is usually most active at night, and they usually don't need or prefer the company of other sloth bears. Their range includes India, Sri Lanka and southern Nepal. At the Zoo, they tend to keep a crepuscular schedule, meaning they are active in both the morning and evening but sleep midday and overnight. Wild – Sloth Bears are insectivorous, specializing in termites. Sloth bears are the only bears to routinely carry their young on their backs. They can get their food without leaving their homes - that is, the canopies of the tree they have chosen to live in. Sloth bears are usually solitary, except during the breeding season and when raising young. During non-fruiting season, insects constitute 95 percent of a sloth bear's diet. They will also eat leafy plants, fruits, nuts, root vegetables, honey, and rodents. However, during the wet season, they will climb high into the branches of trees to gather fruits, flowers and honeycombs. Their diets in some areas also comprise an unlikely berry: tiny, blue-black lantana fruits. Adult males do take care of their cubs. Males are often observed to be gentle with cubs. Practice ecotourism by being an advocate for the environment when you’re on vacation. To do so, they close their nostrils and use their lips like a vacuum nozzle. The gestation period for the species is around six or seven months, after which the female will give birth in a den, usually to two young. During your travels, support, visit or volunteer with organizations that protect wildlife. During non-fruiting season, insects constitute 95 percent of a sloth bear's diet. Other potential predators include jackals, wild dogs, wolves, leopards and other Asian bear species. She may become less interactive, or easily agitated, disinterested in food, defend the cubbing area and sleep more. Sloth Bears photos The lazy bear (Melusus Ursinus), also known as the spearhead bear, is a predominantly bear insect species of the Indian subcontinent. After emerging from the den at around 9 to 12 weeks, cubs stay with their mother for approximately two to three years before heading off on their own --a long time in comparison to other bears. Sloths are classified as herbivores or folivores. During the dry season, nearly 95 percent of a sloth bear’s diet is insects. Adult sloth bears may travel in pairs. They are equally good swimmers too. Beetles, grubs and … In India, sloth bears breed in late spring to early summer. They also can scale the tree to knock a bee honeycomb, which they can then enjoy on the ground below. Instead, during the winter months, many species of bear retreat into dens. They walk in a slow, shambling motion, with their feet being set down in a noisy, flapping motion. They are scientifically called as Melursus Ursinus. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/s/sloth-bear.html. In Pakistan, some people participate in "bear-baiting," the practice of having bears fight dogs. MRC 5516 When trees are in fruit, usually during the monsoon season, sloth bears dine on mango, fig, ebony and other fruits, as well as on flowers. In addition to insects, Sloth Bears eat a wide variety of flowers and fruits including mango, fig, and ebony. 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