A VERY LAZY BEAR
This week we’re traveling to the Indian subcontinent. It’s in such countries as Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka, that we’ll find the subject of this week’s post; the Sloth Bear. You would think that with a name like Sloth Bear he'd be lazy, but he’s not.
So why is he called a Sloth Bear? Many years ago, a member of the British museum classified this unusual animal as a sloth. The disheveled look of its fur and its long claws were the reason why he was thought to be a member of the sloth family. Then, in 1810, a live Sloth Bear was brought to the museum. Members of the museum realized that this mammal was actually a bear, and it was reclassified as such. However, the name Sloth Bear stuck.
Here is a picture of those long claws. The Sloth Bear’s claws can grow as long as four inches.
This unusual bear is typically a loner and it can weigh anywhere from 175 to 300 pounds. The male bear is larger than the female. Furry ears and a white marking on their chest are striking identifiers. They are a unique bear in that their diet consists mostly of insects, termites being a favorite. A specialized lower lip helps them slurp up termites like a vacuum. Also, they use their long claws to break up termite mounds to get at those delicious bugs. Although termites are at the top of their menu, Sloth Bears are considered omnivores, which means they will eat just about anything. I have read that their diet adjusts to change of seasons. During the rainy season they eat fruit.
At one time Sloth Bears were plentiful. Now they are considered vulnerable by the IUCN*. Hunted for medicinal purposes, their populations are now fragmented into protected areas. International trade is prohibited and has helped to protect existing populations.
Unlike many other bear species, the Sloth Bear does not need to hibernate. This is probably due to the fact that they live in a warm climate, and food is available to them all year long.
A female Sloth Bear typically has two cubs at a time. In the below video taken at the Brookfield Zoo, in Illinois, you will meet a mother and her two babes. Just like any youngsters, these two are playful and inquisitive. Take note of the mother’s lower lip, which is specialized for eating termites, and also watch for how the mother carries her cub on her back.
I also have another video from Arkive.org., which I want to share with you. I was so surprised to see how the Sloth Bear in this video scratched his back against a tree. It reminded me of Baloo in the movie The Jungle Book. I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as I did.
Video credit: www://arkive.org
*IUCN= International Union for Conservation of Nature
If you want to learn more about the Sloth Bear, visit the following sites, which are just a few of the sites I visited to research this bear for you:
My sincere thanks to Arkive.org for some of the pictures, the video and some of the information. I do hope you’ll stop by again next week.
Jeanne E. Rogers, Award Winning Author
The Sword of Demelza and The Gift of Sunderland
Middle Grade Fantasy Where Endangered Animal Heroes Roam the Pages!