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Common Name: Sun Bear

Scientific Name: Helarctos malayanus


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Ursidae

Genus: Helarctos

Species: H. malayanus


Helarctos malayanus, or the Sun Bear is listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the ICUN list and you can tell its age by the rings in its teeth. They are also nocturnal. Sun Bears are omnivorous and eat both animals and plants. For meat, they eat birds, small mammals, snails, eggs, termites, and lizards. For plant life, it eats fruits, nuts, palm tree tips (when the tree is young), sprouts, berries, cocoa, coconuts, and roots. They also eat honey and bees nests. To help them crack hard nuts, they have strong, flat molars. To assist them in getting termites out of mounds, they have long tongues and claws. When hunting, Sun Bears use smell because of poor eyesight.


Sun Bears are the smallest bear species at around 4ft long and 60-145 lbs, with males being 20% larger. They have short black fur all over their body, except for on their chest and muzzle, where there is a crescent shaped gold mark, hence the name ‘Sun Bear’. They have amazingly long tongues up to 10in long, like a giraffe’s. The black fur repels dirt and rain very well and their feet, good for climbing, are turned in when they walk. It has round ears and a round shout with an excellent, pink nose on it.


Sun Bears live in many Asian countries like India, Bangladesh, Thailand, and Indonesia. They make their homes in rainforests where there is an abundance of honey and wildlife. It was thought that Sun Bears used to live in China, though we now know it is unlikely.


The Sun Bear has no predators, except for humans. Because they live in trees, they sometimes take refuge in plantations where cocoa is grown and destroy private property. Sun Bears are sometimes hunted for their fur and their bile. They are even occasionally kept as pets because of their compact size.


Author: Kennedy J

Publish: 05/2009


Sources: Wikipedia (search: Sun Bear) Photo Credit:






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