Sloth Bear or Sloth Bear - Feeding, Traits and Breeding

Sloth bear or sloth bear: find out what this animal is like, its physical characteristics, character, behavior, etc. Sloth bear (Melursus ursinus), also called honey bear,...

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The sloth bear (Melursus ursinus), also called honey bear, sloth bear, sloth bear or long-lipped bear, is a mammal that belongs to the Ursidae family and to the genus Melursus. At first, as it has common characteristics with sloths, it was included in the genus Bradypus. Despite its reclassification, a debate still exists as to whether the species should correspond to the first mentioned genus or to the genus Ursus.

This bear has certain characteristics that make it quite special, such as the fact that it is the only species of its kind.Two subspecies are derived from it, the Sri Lankan sloth bear (Melursus ursinus inornatus) and the Indian sloth bear (Melursus ursinus ursinus). To learn more about the characteristics of the Sloth bear, we invite you to continue reading this information sheet from PlanèteAnimal in which we tell you all about the bear that eats honey!

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  • Asia
  • India
  • Nepal
  • Sri Lanka

Characteristics of Sloth Bear

The sloth bear has unique characteristics within the Ursidae family. Generally speaking, he is medium in size compared to other bears. Males weigh between 80 and 140 kg, while females weigh between 55 and 95 kg. As for their size, they can measure from 60 to 90 cm. It has an absence of the first two upper incisors, hence its first classification in the genus Bradypus, genus of sloths.As for the molars, they are flat and wide, which makes its dental structure really keep it away from carnivores.

It has an elongated, thick snout, with a pronounced nose and lips (hence its name), characteristics uncommon in other Ursids. It can voluntarily open and close its nostrils and it has a very long tongue, two very important characteristics for its diet. Its legs are positioned inwards and, like the claws, are large, they use them to dig.

" The sloth bear has a particularly long, smooth and abundant coat, black in color and on the chest appears a white, yellowish or brown U-shaped pattern. In some individuals, a combination of gray and brown hairs are present."

Do you like these animals? Find out all the types of bears that exist in this other article.

Types of Sloth Bears

Two sloth bear subspecies have been recognized, here they are:

Sri Lankan Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus inornatus)

" This subspecies is smaller than the other and the males have a slightly larger skull than the females. Their coat is also shorter and may lack the characteristic light colored U on the chest. He lives exclusively on the island of Sri Lanka."

Indian Sloth Bear (Melursus ursinus ursinus)

It is larger than the previous subspecies, it has a large skull, and the male is also larger than the females. This bear is widely distributed in India.

Lippu Bear Habitat

The largest proportion of Lippu's population is found in India, where it is distributed in a very fragmented manner, mainly in the northern, northeastern, central, southeastern and southeastern regions. west. However, it is also found in Sri Lanka and Nepal. In general, the habitat of this bear has been seriously affected by human activities.

It is a species that lives mostly below 1500 m altitude, however, in some areas it can be found up to 2000 m. It is capable of developing in various types of ecosystems, such as tropical, humid and dry forests, savannahs, scrubland or even grasslands. In the case of the Sri Lankan population, most sloth bears live within 300 m.

This animal avoids severely human-disturbed habitats whenever possible, so it is rarely seen near fields or areas heavily frequented by humans.

Behaviour of the Sloth Bear

In general, the sloth bear has a shy character and can even tolerate the presence of other bears. Although it is not really considered a territorial animal, it still marks trees with its claws and teeth. It can be found both in pairs with young and individually.Generally speaking, sloth bears eventually aggregate in feeding areas, in which there will be a dominant male. It has mostly nocturnal habits, but a female with her young may remain active during the day to avoid encounters with predators.

Another of the sloth bear's most notable characteristics is that it has a habit of making a wide variety of loud sounds, whether when breeding, feeding, fighting, scares, gets angry or hurts himself.

Are Sloth Bears Slow?

The sloth bear is rather clumsy and slow, probably due to the size of its claws and paws, however, if necessary, it can easily run faster than a human. On the other hand, when it comes to climbing trees, it's a real ace! They do this to feed or protect the young from potential predators. Another characteristic related to their movements is that they can be good swimmers, an activity they do mainly for play.

It is important not to confuse the Lippu with the sloths of the Pilosa order, where we find species such as the common sloth, which is an animal with fairly slow movements due to their low metabolism

Are sloth bears aggressive?

Lippus bears prefer to avoid confrontation, but they can be aggressive. They try to stay away from human encounters, but in the event of a coincidence, it can easily lead to an accident. With respect to other animals, and especially females accompanied by their young, these bears can defend themselves with great determination. These are animals that can be so fierce that they can even take on tigers.

Occasionally they clash with individuals of the same species, but these clashes will occur when food is scarce.

What does the sloth bear eat - Food

The sloth bear feeds mainly on ants, termites and fruits, and it is the only species of bear that is myrmecophagous (feeding exclusively or generally on ants and termites). It is also a bear that eats honey, leaves and flowers.

It uses its long claws to open termite nests, then closes its nostrils and blows out the dirt to clean it all up. Later, using its long snout, it sucks up insects to devour them. When these bears feed, they produce sounds that can be heard from quite a distance.

Reproduction of the Lippu Bear

The Indian subspecies usually mates between May and July, while the Sri Lankan subspecies does so at any time of the year. Gestation lasts about 7 months and usually consists of 1 to 3 young. At the time of parturition, the females look for burrows or caves where they will be quiet.

Young ones are born blind and stay blind for about 3 weeks. Then, after 4-5 weeks, the babies will start to come out of the burrow, but will stay with their mother until they are 2-3 years old. Generally, they move on the back of the female to be protected against possible predators.

Conservation status of the sloth bear

The sloth bear has been declared vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The main cause of population decline is habitat destruction, characterized by accelerating deforestation, monoculture, mining, and human constructions. Additionally, poaching is another reason that impacts the population level of the animal, as some bear organs are traded due to certain popular beliefs.

The species is listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which gives it special protection, a fact that has been achieved throughout living in protected areas.However, when transiting outside of these areas, it is exposed to the aforementioned impacts.

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