| Common characteristics of bears include a short tail, acute senses of smell and hearing, five non-retractable claws per paw, and long, dense, shaggy fur. Bears have large bodies and powerful limbs. They are capable of standing up on their hind legs. They have broad paws, long snouts, and round ears. Their teeth are bared for defense and used as tools, depending on the diet of the bear. Their claws are used for ripping, digging, and catching. Black bears, and likely other bears, have color vision.|
Depending on the species, bears can have 32 to 42 teeth. Bear teeth are not specialized for killing their prey like those of cats. Normal canine teeth in a carnivore are generally large, pointed and used for killing prey, while bears' canine teeth are relatively small and typically used in defense or as tools. Bears' molar teeth are broad, flat and are used to shred and grind plant food into small digestible pieces.
Bears have four limbs that end in paws. Each paw has five long, sharp claws that are not retractable. These claws can be used to climb trees, rip open termite nests and beehives, dig up roots, or catch prey, depending on the species. While most carnivores tend to walk on their toes in a way that is adapted for speed, bears have a plantigrade stance. They walk with their weight on the soles of their feet, with the heel touching the ground, while the claws of the arm are used more for balance.
Although slower than most carnivores, a running bear can reach speeds of up to 30 mph.
A bear's fur is often long and shaggy. Fur color varies among species, ranging from white, blond or cream, black and white, to all black or all brown. Colors of a bear's fur can also vary within species. For example, American black bears may be black, brown, reddish-brown, or bluish-black.
In all bear species, males are larger than females, but the difference between sexes varies and is greatest in the largest species. Large male polar bears may weigh twice as much as females, while smaller male and female bears are much more similar in weight. A bear's life span seems to last about 25 to 40 years.
Kodiak bears are the largest type, and in fact one of the largest extant carnivores, though polar bears are the heaviest.
Bear Family Ursidae
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