Monday, August 26, 2013

American Black Bear

Ursus americanus
Welcome back everyone! I hope you're ready and set to learn about all kinds of cool animals again!

Today's creature is the American Black Bear, the smallest of the North American Bear species. These mammals can be found all over the continent in forested areas, and there are actually 16 recognized subspecies that range from Alaska to central Mexico.

One odd tidbit about these Bears is that they are not closely related to the other North American Bears (the Brown and Polar). In fact, their closest relatives are the Asian Black Bears and Sun Bears. This relationship is easy to see when you consider that about a quarter of all American Black Bears have white chest spots-- those same spots are common in their Asian relatives!

Another cool fact? American Black Bears aren't always black! They can be brown, blonde, grey, and even a creamy-white color! The eastern bears tend to be darker in color, while those in the west are more pale.

Interestingly, animal matter makes up very little of the Black Bear's diet. They eat mostly fruits and grasses, but will pick up the occasional insect or forage from the remains of another animal's kill. They do not actively hunt out vertebrates.

American Black Bears tend to be solitary, and they can be either nocturnal or diurnal, depending on where they live. The sexes tend to only up when it comes time to breed, and females will have their first litter between the ages of 3 and 5. After that, she'll have a new set of cubs every other year. In colder areas, the Black Bears will hibernate in winter, and the cubs are usually born during that hibernation period.

In general, the American Black Bear is listed as being of Least Concern. However, some subspecies are threatened (like the Louisiana and Florida Black Bears).

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : North America
Size : Shoulder height up to 3ft (.9m), Weight up to 500lbs (227kg)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Carnivora
Family : Ursidae -- Genus : Ursus -- Species : U. americanus
Image : Animal A Day

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