We all grew up hugging a teddy bear. And we all had our favorite cartoon bear. Winnie the Pooh, Baloo, Yogi bear or Paddington bear? No matter who’s your best buddy, they are all our big fluffy friends. Anyway, besides being cute cartoon characters, bears are real animals. Additionally, their lifestyle is much more complicated than just eating berries and catching fish. Let’s discover some brown bear facts. Are you ready to be impressed?
1. Bears don’t actually hibernate
I know, right? While most of us believe that bears hibernate during winter, looks like science managed to prove something different. This common misconception is related to their metabolism, which slows down during cold months. However, bears are not true hibernators. The state in which bears spend winter is called “torpor”. Unlike in hibernation, the bear’s body temperature doesn’t drop to match the outside temperature. During torpor, their heart rate is low, while the body temperature is relatively high. In case of need, the animal can wake up easily and quickly while in torpor.
2. There are several subspecies of brown bears
This might be one of the weirdest brown bear facts. When we think about brown bears, we might have in mind a particular subspecies, as the European Brown Bear. Surprise! The brown bear taxonomy and subspecies classification proved the existence of several subspecies. The Palearctic Realm includes Eurasia and North Africa, while also being home to 9 brown bear subspecies. Here, the most well-known is the European Brown Bear (Ursus arctos arctos), followed by the Himalayan Brown Bear (Ursus arctos isabellinus). In addition, the Nearctic Realm covers North America and is home to 8 subspecies of brown bear. The Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) and Kodiak Bear (Ursus arctos middendorffi) are the most popular here.
3. Brown bears are polygamous
The mating season is May to July. Brown bears reproductive behavior is controversial, as they are serially monogamous, as well as polygamous. Usually, the male remains with the same female for a couple of days/weeks during the mating season. However, bear mates are sexually promiscuous and they will try to mate as many females as they can during this season. Additionally, the adult female brown bear will also mate several mates, sometimes in a single day. DNA tests have shown that up to 29% of cubs in a litter can be from several different males. That’s why they all look alike!
4. Cubs are born while the female is asleep
The real pregnancy begins when the ovum is attached to the uterine wall, at the beginning of the torpor period. The cubs are born eight weeks later, while the mother is in winter lethargy. However, these cute little fellas are born blind, toothless and hairless. They feed on their mother’s milk until they are ready to follow her and search for solid food. Other fascinating brown bear facts are cubs behavior and dependency stage. Up to the first two years, cubs are entirely dependent on their mother. Is when they discover survival techniques and how to obtain food. Additionally, they learn all this by imitating their mother’s actions.
5. Romanian brown bears are affected by global warming
Bears are not the only animals that live in Romania. However, they might be amongst the most affected by climate change. In the last few years, there has been a noticeable increase in temperature during winters in Romania. For example, the average temperature in January has risen from -4.5⁰C in the 1970s to -1.9⁰C in 2001-2010. As the food is still available for them, thanks to these mild seasons, bears are starting to skip the torpor. They will stay awake during winter, which creates a real danger for the bear population. Cubs should be born in the dens and protected by their mother’s body. However, if the mother is active, the shelter is not safe. Additionally, the quality of her milk decreases. In the end, all this reduces their chances of survival.
6. Brown bears can cover up to 150km in a day
Do you like long walks? Bears certainly do! A brown bear’s home range can be up to 2500km2. They might walk up to 180 km in a day, usually in search of food. Anyway, unlike other animals, brown bears have a common thread with humans: they share home ranges. Living in the forest is like living in a neighborhood: your neighbor might be Brownie, a fellow brown bear. Brown bear facts can be amazing…
7. A large population of brown bear lives in the Carpathian Mountains
Counting over 100,000 individuals on her territory, Russia has the largest population of European brown bear in Europe. However, Romania is next on the list. Around 6000 European brown bears found their home in the Carpathian Mountains. Not a surprise that bear watching Romania is a popular activity amongst tourists. Truth is there are not so many places on Earth where you can see bears in a natural habitat. So, it is indeed worth it!
8. You can visit a Bear Sanctuary in Romania
Why should you see bears only in Zoos? How about admiring these majestic creatures in a wild or semi-wild environment? Even more, why shouldn’t we be able to interact with them, in a safe and controlled manner? Liberty Bear Sanctuary is home to over 70 brown bears that now live happily in their own private love-cage. Located in the heart of Transylvania, a visit to the Sanctuary will give you an insight into a bear’s life. However, you should bear in mind when to see bears in Romania, as in the cold season they might be sleeping.
9. In Russia exists a rescue center for orphaned brown bear cubs
As the cubs are helpless during the first weeks, their survival depends entirely on their mother. But nature is unpredictable. Sometimes, bear mothers can’t raise and protect their cubs. However, that’s when the Orphan Bear Rescue Center helps them. Located 450 km from Moscow, the Center raises and prepares orphaned brown bear cubs to survive and adapt alone in the forest. Cubs are kept in a semi-wild environment and taught to behave like their free relatives. Even more, the timing is adapted to their natural lifestyle: cubs are released into the wild in the same period when their mother would have left them to start an independent life.
10. Brown bear facts – they are not great at climbing trees
But this doesn’t mean they won’t try! Black bears are much more skilled at climbing trees, due to the shape of their claws. While brown bears are also able to do so, mostly if the branches are in the right place, tree climbing is not a carrier goal for them. The claws of a brown bear are blunt, making this activity challenging. However, if they are motivated enough, they will find a way up.
The brown bear is just one of the species populating Europe’s forests. If these brown bear facts made you smile, check out also these gray wolf facts. And don’t forget about the wild boar facts. As you can imagine, understanding nature also helps us create a better connection.