How big do bears get

brown bear


What do brown bears look like?

Everyone recognizes them at first glance: Brown bears are the best-known representatives of the bear family.

With their broad head, long snout and small round ears, they look like real cuddly teddies. But be careful: they are predators!

Depending on where they live, they are small or huge: They can be between two and three meters long and weigh 150 to 780 kilograms - almost as much as a small car.

The smallest brown bears live in the Alps and are just as big as a St. Bernard.

Brown bears in Scandinavia and western Russia are much larger.

True giants among the brown bears can be found in Asia and North America: the grizzly bears and the Kodiak bears, some of which weigh over 700 kilograms, are the largest land predators on earth.

The color of their thick fur is also quite different: from red-blonde to light and dark brown to brown-black. Some, like the grizzlies, are more gray - that's why they are also called gray bears.

All have short, strong legs with large paws and long claws that - unlike cats - they cannot pull in.

Brown bears only have a tiny stub tail. It is so small that it is completely hidden in the thick fur and cannot be seen.

Where do brown bears live?

Brown bears used to be at home from western North Africa to Europe (except Iceland and the Mediterranean islands), Asia (to Tibet) and North America. They have been exterminated in many regions such as North Africa and Western Europe.

In some areas of Europe there are still a few animals today.

A few bears have now been reintroduced in Austria. Most brown bears are found in Russia and North America today. In Europe there are said to be around 10,000 brown bears in Spain, Russia, Turkey, Scandinavia and Italy - each spread over small areas.

Brown bears prefer to live in large, extensive deciduous and coniferous forests. Far in the north, however, they also live in the tundra.

What types of brown bears are there?

There are many different subspecies of the brown bear that differ greatly in size and color: European brown bears live in Central, Southern, Northern and Eastern Europe, the Isabel brown bear in the Himalayas, the Syrian brown bear in Syria. The Kamchatka bear lives on Russia's Pacific coast and is much larger than its European relatives.

The largest brown bears are found in North America: the grizzly bears and the Kodiak bears.

The Kodiak bear is the giant among the brown bears and is considered the most powerful land predator on earth: the males can weigh up to 800 kilograms, some even up to 1000 kilograms, the females up to 500 kilograms.

The Kodiak bear is only found on Kodiak Island - after which it was named - and a few neighboring islands off the south coast of Alaska. The Kodiak bear's way of life corresponds to that of the other brown bears.

How old do brown bears get?

Brown bears live up to 35 years.


How do brown bears live?

Brown bears are active both day and night.

However, they are so shy that in areas where they are often disturbed, they wander almost exclusively at night. In general, you hardly have a chance of seeing a bear in Europe.

You hear and smell a person long before they even suspect that a brown bear might be there. Bears always avoid people.

They only become dangerous when they are threatened or injured - or when a mother bear defends her cubs.

Most brown bears walk around on all fours, but if they smell something or threaten an attacker, they stand up on their hind legs - and then they look really huge and strong as a bear.

Bears are a little different from the rest of the predators: it's very difficult to tell whether they're angry or peaceful.

That's because they don't have facial expressions; her facial expression is almost always exactly the same, no movement is recognizable.

Even if they usually appear sedate and calm, they can run at lightning speed over short distances. Grizzlies get almost as fast as a horse.

Bears spend the winter in caves in the rock or in the earth, which they pad with moss and twigs. They don't really hibernate there, but hibernate.

They sleep most of the time and do not eat, but rather feed on the thick layer of fat that they have eaten over the year.

When they come out of their cave in the spring, they will have lost almost a third of their weight. The she-bear also gives birth to her young in these winter quarters.

Friends and enemies of the brown bear

Bears have no enemies other than humans. However, the adult male bears can be dangerous to the young bears. As soon as males appear, the young often flee high up in trees because the heavy males cannot follow them there.

How do brown bears reproduce?

The bear wedding takes place in summer. After mating, males and females go their separate ways again.

About seven to eight months later, the female gives birth to two to three young between mid-December and mid-January.

Newborn bears are tiny compared to their mother: they weigh no more than 500 grams, are naked and blind. After four or five weeks, they open their eyes. First they are warmed by the mother and suckled for up to four months.

Only in spring, when they have grown properly, have a thick coat and it is warmer outside, do they leave the cave for the first time and follow their mother step by step.

Female bears are very vigilant mothers and do not shy away from fighting with large male bears when it comes to defending their cubs.

The young bears spend the following winter with their mother in the hibernation cave.

Overall, the bear family stays together for about two to two and a half years until the cubs become independent and look for their own territory.

How do brown bears hunt?

Especially in spring, when they cannot find enough herbs, berries and small animals such as frogs or insects, bears also hunt large animals.

Then they kill deer, elk or sheep. However, this rarely happens.

How do brown bears communicate?

Bears are buzzing. But they can also scream or snort loudly when they are angry and fighting with each other.


What do brown bears eat?

Although brown bears are predators, they will eat almost anything that comes before their mouth:

Fruits, berries, young buds and roots, crabs, fish, frogs or ants, bird eggs and honey.

They don't stop at carrion either.

Bears rarely hunt large animals. They eat their thick winter fat mainly with sweet berries and other fruits.

In North America, bears regularly congregate on the major rivers when salmon migrate up the rivers from the ocean to their spawning grounds.

Then they live like in a land of milk and honey: they stand in the water for days and eat salmon until they are round and fat.