Have you ever really wondered about the magnificent creatures we all had to do projects on when we were in grade school? In time, we can forget many of the things about bears that make them so adorable and, yes, even fierce and dangerous at times. Come along and learn about why we still love and revere bears - from Smokey the Bear, Yogi Bear, to Winnie the Pooh, and all the colorful Gummi Bears in between.
Species of Bears
There are more than 16 or so sub-species of black bears, and a variety of brown bears. The Polar bear is the only kind of bear with webbed feet and hair on the pads of their paws. Their fur is also very interesting! Polar bear fur is a hollow tube of hair that allows light to reflect so they look white, especially with lots of white snow where they live. On sunny days, each hollow of hair keeps the Polar bear's body temperature nice and warm. Because their hair is oily, it can repel water, which comes in handy when they have to swim great distances, in icy water, to find food. Speaking of hair, there is another kind of bear called the Kermode bear or Spirit bear found only in Canada. It is called Spirit bear because one of every 10 Kermode is born pure white. These white Kermodes are very rare because there aren't very many Kermode bears in the first place.
Walking, Climbing and, Yes, Eating
Bears walk flat footed just like humans do, rather than on their toes like most other animals. This is also why it can be a little scary to see a huge (and possibly hungry) bear rearing up in front of you when, from far away, it just might look like a person. Even more impressive is that the very same bear can smell seven times better than bloodhounds can and over 2,000 times better than humans can smell. As if that wasn't impressive enough, they can also run up to 37 miles per hour! The good news is that a bear's small, beady eyes and poor eyesight leave time for some animals to sneak away in a hurry or to stay perfectly still behind the bear.
Have you ever noticed that bears tend to be somewhat pigeon-toed in spite of those long claws? Most likely the reason for the curves is so that they can climb trees better. Their front claws are much longer than on their back claws. This curved feature also makes it easier for them to place food in their mouths, which they then chew with all 42 of their teeth! Humans, by comparison, have only 32 teeth we can use. Then again, we don't have to chew through heavy canvas bags to get to food that campers and hikers often leave unattended at their campsites. (Well, most of us anyway.) Panda bears, on the other hand, have developed a “thumb” as part of their wrist-bone, that faces opposite of the rest of the five “fingers." This seemingly simple feature allows pandas to hold onto bamboo better.
Whatever you do, let bears eat what they want. It's always best to just go with it, because you don't want a bear to feel threatened or that it has to fight you for food. The bear will always win. When defending themselves, bears can generally make themselves look much bigger than they are by fluffing up their fur and standing straight up on their hind legs. Grizzly bears, for instance, can stand 6 to 7 feet in height. Then, when they fluff up… well, you get the picture!
Cute and Cubby
Sure, bear cubs are adorable when they are little, scampering behind their mothers. She teaches them, in a sort of bear "summer school," all the things they will have to know when they are grown. Play fighting with their brothers or sisters is an important part of learning to protect themselves. Lookout, though. If they get too rowdy, mom will discipline with one giant swat of her paw! Bear cubs generally stay with their mothers until they are nearly two years old. They are born during the winter hibernation period. Most of the time, the mama bears don't even wake up during the birthing period! The cubs are just about the size of a small squirrel, but by summer, they are roly-poly and ready for play. Moms do have to be on the lookout for male Grizzly bears, however. When they are hungry enough, male grizzlies have been known to eat cubs. So, the next time you are out in the woods, make a lot of noise, stay downwind, and place your food in a net high enough on a tree branch so that you can enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature without fearing a hungry bear!
Adorable Bear Decor
In case you haven't guessed it, we are pretty crazy about bears here at Black Forest Decor. If you like bears like we like bears, we encourage you to check out our full like of bear decor. Who knows? You just might find the perfect gift... even if it is for you!
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