15 Fascinating Facts About Black Bears You Never Knew About

dinosaur-lover-gifts-for-toddlers-this-Christmas-seasona close-up shot of an adult black bear in a black background

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Have you ever wondered what black bear facts classic cartoon characters like Yogi Bear and Winnie The Pooh were inspired by? Or how dangerous in real life was the bear Leonardo Di Caprio fought with in “The Revenant”?

We can’t help but be curious. So we hunted for the freshest facts about black bears to help us understand this fascinating animal better. Join us as we get to know, the Ursus Americanus, North America’s black bears.

#1 Where Do Black Bears Live?

a bear with her cubs standing beside a body of water with forests and mountains in the background

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Black bears can be found in 32 states in America, all across Canada, and northern Mexico. They love making their homes in these places’ thick forests and rugged mountains. And within those forests and mountains, they live in bear dens that are big enough to shelter them from the elements and raise their young.

Bear dens are different from each other just like our homes are different from one another. These dens range from trees, mounds, and caves.

#2 What Do Black Bears Eat?

a bear inside a cave with salmon in its mouth

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Black bears are quite the healthy eater! They enjoy a variety of food that makes up for a well-rounded diet.

Black bears are omnivores that feed on plants, nuts, insects, and young moose or deer. They even eat wild honey! And in Alaska, black bears can be seen hunting wild delicious salmon.

And like seasonal specialties in the grocery, black bears’ diets vary from what’s available in their habitats during the season.

#3 What's The Size Of A Black Bear Litter?

a black bear beside a tree trunk

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An interesting fact about black bears is how their sizes are different between males and females. Male bears, called boars, can grow as large as 600 pounds. While female bears, called sows, weigh only up to 375 pounds.

Additionally, black bears can grow up to 7 feet tall and live for up to 30 years in the wild. The oldest black bear to have ever lived was 39 years old the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) shares.

#4 What's The Size Of A Black Bear Litter?

black bear cubs on green grass beside a brown tree

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Mama black bears usually have as many as three cubs when they give birth. The usual is one cute black bear to three but it isn’t uncommon for sows to have more. Six cubs were even born to a mama black bear in Pennsylvania according to the North American Bear Center.

Black bears mate during the summer and give birth during winter.

#5 What Are Black Bear Cubs Like?

black bear cubs leaping over a rocky stream

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These cute balls of fur are born without sight and teeth. Cubs barely weigh a pound when born, weighing only a half to three-quarters.

They’re raised by their mamas for up to one and a half years. They’re fed and taught to hunt for food and protect themselves during this time.

A great way to teach kids how bear cubs live is by a visual aid like this cute black bear puppet. You can make sounds and movements just like a real cub which will be effective for your little ones’ learning.

a black bear cub puppet beside green plants

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#6 How Fast Can Black Bears Run?

a black bear on the grass during daytime

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Another interesting fact about black bears is how fast they can run. Black bears can run as fast as 48 to 56 km/h!

That’s surprising considering their size and height. Their speed is all thanks to their strong forelegs. Now you know you can’t outrun a bear.

#7 Can Black Bears Swim?

Yes, they can! Did you know one black bear was able to swim nine miles along the Gulf of Mexico? The Noth American Bear Center shares that incredible story proving that black bears swim.

They swim and enter the waters in search of food and sometimes, pleasure. Oh, what a life when you have all the simple bear (bare) necessities in life just like The Jungle Book’s Baloo!

Check out black bears swimming in real life in this video. You can start at 4 min 14 sec.

#8 What Do Black Bears Do for Fun?

blace bear having fun in the water

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Fun facts about black bears include playtime too. Their playful activities are light wrestling, rolling, and biting each other without the intention of hurting. Black bear cubs often play in wide-open places where there’s room to roll around.

Black bears also play with bouncy young trees when they see one around. They climb, ride, and have fun with the sapling’s flexibility.

#9 Do Black Bears Climb Trees?

Yes, they do! Black bear fun facts include climbing trees as tall as 100 feet in only 30 seconds! Now, how about that?

Their strong claws and legs help them achieve such a feat. It’s the same physical features that help them get down from the tree. They’re unique because they descend rear first, unlike other mammals that go down headfirst.

#10 How Long Are A Black Bear's Claws?

close-up shot of black bears’ claws

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Black bears’ claws are curved, as long as two inches, and show imprint as much on bear tracks. Their claws are also dark in color. Their claws’ physical features are what help them climb trees to protect themselves from predators and search for food inside logs.

#11 What Colors Can a Black Bear's Fur Have?

a black bear with a flower in its mouth

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Black bears aren’t always black. Did you know they can be cinnamon-colored, chocolate brown, and white too? The difference in the furs’ colors is greatly influenced by their habitats.

Black fur helps protect black bears living in the thick of forests and mountains. While lighter-colored fur helps decrease heat stress, camouflage from foes, and increase black bears’ ability to feed longer for those living in more open habitats.

Another reason could be a recessive gene that gives the black bear its white fur coat.

#12 How Long Do Black Bears Hibernate?

Black bears hibernate from three to six months. Hibernation happens during the long winter months of November to March.

It’s during this time that the females give birth to their cubs while the males use this time to better preserve themselves as food is scarce.

#13 How Dangerous Are Black Bears?

an open-mouthed black bear in a green forest

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To be safe, black bears are still wild animals with physical builts far stronger than humans. They are still worth being wary about because of that.

The U.S. National Park Service recommends these safety precautions in case you encounter a black bear:

  • let the bear know you are human by talking calmly in low tones, stand still, and wave your arms slowly
  • immediately pick up and carry small kids
  • slowly move away, sideways

#14 What Are Black Bears Afraid of?

a black bear looking back while on a green grassy hill

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Black bears are solitary creatures by nature and would rather be left alone. It only comes near when it gets curious or sees something as prey. They’re normally wary of humans and can be shooed away by bear spray or making yourself look larger by moving to a more elevated area.

#15 What's the Difference Between A Black Bear & A Grizzly Bear?

A telltale sign of a black bear is the lack of a shoulder hump in the middle of its shoulders. Grizzly bears have a shoulder hump which gives it its characteristic hunched look. But black bears do not.

Facts About Black Bears to Prepare You for Real Life

a black bear in a flower field during the afternoon

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Were you surprised by all the facts about black bears you just got to know? It’s a wonderful experience getting to understand nature and the animals that call it their home.

We hope this helped you get to know black bears a little better. And hopefully, gave you a better idea of what they’ll be like in case you encounter them in the wild.

Don’t forget to equip your little ones too! You can help them learn better with the assistance of a realiistic black bear puppet as a visual aid. Visits to the zoo may be a good idea too so they can become more familiar with bears as they see one in person.

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