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Common Name: Sloth Bar

Scientific Name: Melursus ursinus


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Ursidae

Genus: Melursus

Species: M. ursinus


The sloth bear is also known as Melursus Ursinus. The population of the sloth bear is between 7,000-10,000. Sloth bears can live in dry and wet forest. They also live in grasslands, where boulders and shrubs can provide shelter. They have been spotted in India, Sir-Lanka, Southern Nepal, Bhutan and in Bangladesh.


There are a few reasons why they are called the sloth bear. The Hindu word for bear is "bhalu". This is why the bear in Disney's Jungle Book was called "Baloo". Early explorers named them after the sloths, after seeing them hang upside down in trees. They also are named after their slow wandering manner in how they walk. Sloth bears can walk on their entire foot like humans.


Sloth bear cubs have been captured by gypsies to be used as performing animals. Sloth bears are also killed for their bile for use in some traditional medicines. Sloth bears can stand six feet tall. They hardly ever eat meat. They dine on mango, flowers, and berries.


Sloth bears have black coats of fur and very long claws. Their claws can reach a length of three inches. Their tails can grow up to six inches long. Their lifespan is about twenty years in the wild. In some zoo's they have lived up to forty years.


These bears are blind and hairless at birth. They are blind up to 3 months after birth. They weigh between 10.5-17.5 ounces at birth. They carry their cubs on their backs for up to six months. They are the only bears that carry their young on their back.


Sloth bears live solitary lives. They live in protective areas. They sleep during the day and are active at night. They live in groups where the males are active in the raising of their cubs.


Sloth bears sniff underground for insects/beetles. Sloth bears make rapid loud noises with their lips. They suck up insects like a vacuum. They have a gap in their teeth to help suck up insects. They sniff underground for grubs and insects. Sloth bears knock down honeycombs to eat the remaining honey later. When there is a food shortage they will eat meat. They also will eat farm crops such as sugar cane and corn.


Sloth bears are the only bears that do not hibernate. Sloth bears are very competitive over their territories. They leave marks on trees with their teeth and claws. They leave poop at the bottom of the trees in mating seasons.


They are prey to the Bengal tiger and leopards. When the sloth bears are frightened they will stand up on two legs, using their paws as a weapon. They will run away if they can smell or hear people around them. They do not climb trees to escape danger, even though they are excellent climbers. They will dig up to 5 feet to find food if they smell it in the ground.


Sloth bears mate may through July. Females give birth to two cubs 6-7 months later. The cubs are born in underground caves. The mother bears remain in the caves with the cubs for 6-10 weeks. The sloth bear cubs stay by their mother's side for 2-3 years. When sloth bears grow up, they weigh between 120-310 pounds. They grow shaggy dusty black coats. Their hair is thickest behind ears and the back of their neck. They have a cream/yellow V or Y on their chest. Their nostrils can close to protect them when they are eating ants and termites.


Author: Alex H

Published: 05/2009


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