These beautiful animals are very shy and secretive hiding in dense vegetation and rarely seen in the wild. The black bear is the largest native land mammal in Florida. In order to know more about these beautiful creatures, here are some interesting facts about black bears.
- Physical Appearance
Black bear fur is usually dark in color except for a light markings and brown muzzle that sometimes appear on its chests. Western populations of these bears often show blond, brown and cinnamon in color, while eastern populations of black bears are usually black.
These bears are omnivores and eat small mammals, insects, plants, fruits, nuts, honey, salmon, and carrion. In northern regions, they feed on spawning salmon. Black bears will also occasionally kill moose calves or young deer.
It is estimated that there are at least 700,000 black bears in North America. In the United States, there are estimated to be over 400,000 individuals. But, the Florida black bear and Louisiana black bear are unique subspecies with very small populations. The Louisiana black bear is federally listed as endangered species and the Florida black bear is estimated to number 2,500.
The American black bear lives in North America, from Mexico to Canada and at least 40 states in the U.S. They lived almost in all of the forested regions of North America, but in the U.S. they now only live in forests where there is no human. In Canada black bears still live in their historic range except for the farmed areas of the central plains. In Mexico black bears inhabit the mountainous regions of the northern states, but now they are limited to a few remnant populations.
Black bears are extremely adaptable in different habitat types, but they are primarily found in forested areas with thick ground vegetation with plenty of nuts, fruits and vegetation. In the northern areas, they can be spotted in the tundra and sometimes roaming in fields or meadows. Black bears are solitary animals; they usually search for food alone, but will tolerate each other and forage in groups if there is a plenty of food in one area.
Of the 8 species of bears, the American black bear is right in the middle size-wise, but on its home continent North America, is the smallest native bear dwarfed by the grizzly and polar bear.
It is known that the black bear can smell animals, humans, and other bears to even 5 miles away. Because of the special structure of their nose and the addition of the “Jacobson’s organ” located in the roof of their mouth that also aids in smell detection, the black bears have a sense of smell 7 times more powerful than that of a bloodhound.
- Fun Facts
These animals do not really hibernate but enter into an equally amazing state of winter dormancy (torpor). During this process the bear shuts down both its kidneys and digestive system, and doesn’t drink or eat for several months. But since their body temperature only falls a few degrees, sleeping bears can quickly wake up if disturbed.
Scientists are amazed by their ability of not moving for months and not losing muscle or bone mass. They are exploring this phenomenon for important clues that may help bed-ridden people.