Sun Bears are thought to live for an average of 25 years in the wild but have been known to commonly be more than 30 years old in captivity. Despite technically being a classed as a carnivore , the majority of the Sun Bears diet is comprised of fruits and other plant matter that it finds in the surrounding forest.
Like other bear species , their molar teeth have lost their "flesh-shearing" capabilities and are instead flatter to help with the grinding down of vegetation. Sun Bears eat a wide variety of fruits, nuts, berries and shoots along with supplementing their diet with insects , grubs, honey, eggs and small animals such as rodents when plant matter is scarce. By using their strong teeth and sharp claws Sun Bears are able to break open hollow logs before using their long tongue to extract the termites inside.
However, when it is not possible to break the nest in a tree trunk, Sun Bears are known to place their front paws into the hole one at a time, allowing the termites to crawl over their paws before the Sun Bear then licks them off. Due to the relatively large size and tree-dwelling nature of the Sun Bear , adults have relatively few predators in their native environment. Large carnivorous animals like Tigers are the main predators of the Sun Bear but these animals have evolved another unique adaptation to help them to escape in these situations.
Polar bears unlikely to survive in warmer world, biologists say
The Sun Bear has loose skin particularly around its neck which means that is if is caught by a predator , it is able to still spin its head round to try and bite its attacker. Sun Bear cubs however, are much more vulnerable and are preyed upon by a variety of jungle predators including Snakes and large Birds of Prey. The biggest threat though to south-east Asia's remaining Sun Bear populations is the drastic declines in much of their natural habitats due to deforestation.
In areas where agricultural plantations encroach on their territories, Sun Bears are also known to raid oil palms particularly to eat the young shoots. They are therefore also persecuted by farmers who fear for the stability of their crops. The Sun Bear is known by a number of different names but its small size , short snout and ears, and short, glossy fur has led it to being commonly known as the " Dog Bear" in local communities.
Although the Sun Bear is generally solitary on rare occasions a few individuals are known to congregate around ripening fruit trees and will tolerate one another while they feed. Even though Sun Bears are similar in varying parts of their natural range, there is actually a smaller recognised sub-species of Sun Bear that is found on the island of Borneo but very little is known about it.
Unlike a number of the other eight bear species around the world, the Sun Bear does not hibernate.
Wildlife Issues and Conservation: Eating Habits of the Malayan Sun Bears of Borneo
Due to the fact that Sun Bears are found in the tropics where there are not such sweeping seasonal changes, they simply have no need to sleep through the winter months breeding is also known to occur all year round for the same reason. Since modern people arrived in south-east Asia thousands of years ago, Sun Bears have been hunted mainly for the use of certain of their body parts, particularly their gall-bladders, in local Asian medicine markets which has also been the main reason for the drastic declines in nearly all other bear species too.
Due to their small size and generally docile nature, Sun Bears have also been captured to be sold into the exotic pet trade around the world.
However, the biggest problem for the Sun Bear today is the fact that it has lost vast areas of its once extensive natural habitat to deforestation for logging and land clearance for agriculture most of which is illegal. As the Sun Bear spends the majority of its life in the trees, they rely heavily on the rich, dense rainforests that they have become accustomed too, but much of it today has now disappeared with growing Human activity. Today, the Sun Bear is listed by the IUCN as an animal that is Vulnerable in its natural environment and is therefore at risk from becoming extinct in the wild in the future.
Brown Bear - Ecology & Habitat
Sun Bear numbers are still declining and although their exact population numbers are unknown, there could be less than 1, individuals left in the wild today. Although illegal deforestation is harder to control, Sun Bears are protected by anti-poaching laws to help prevent so many being continually hunted in the future.
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Food habits of Malayan sun bears in lowland tropical forest of Borneo
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