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American black bear

OLogy Series
animal
card
306

American black bear

OLogy Series
animal

If you watched an American black bear lumbering through the forest, you might not notice anything unusual about how it moves. This large bear carries its massive weight with a slow, steady stride on all four paws. Walking on four feet isn't unusual for a mammal. But most living mammal species walk on their toes. Bears, like humans, walk on flat feet.

All bears walk on flat feet. This is called being:

digitigrade

plantigrade

unguligrade

Are you right?

Correct!

Plantigrade species place the full length of their foot (heel, sole, and toe) on the ground when they walk. Today, humans, some other primates, and a few other mammals like raccoons, squirrels, and skunks walk this way too.

The American black bear can:

climb trees

walk upright on two feet

both of these

Are you right?

Correct!

All bears can stand on two feet and even walk upright for short distances. The American black bear is one of the bear species that can climb trees. Many bears are also good swimmers!

American black bears are always black.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

American black bears come in many different colors. Their fur can be black, chocolate brown, cinnamon brown, and even blonde.

Black bears hibernate from spring through winter.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Black bears hibernate from winter through spring to conserve energy when food is scarce and temperatures are cold. Cubs are born in winter and stay in the den to nurse.

Scientific Name: Ursus americanus
Habitat: forests of North America
Diet: plants (fruit, nuts, tree bark) and animals (insects, fish, other mammals)
Size: about 3 feet (0.9 meter) tall at the shoulders, up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) long from nose to tail
Conservation Status: least concern
Cool Fact: Black bears usually walk about 5 miles (8 km) an hour, but they can run more than 30 miles (48 km) an hour for short distances.

Image credits: courtesy of R.E.Poplin.