Sloth bear is a small bear species characterized by having a long lower lip and palate for sucking insects.
Sloth Bear Definition
The sloth bear (Melursus ursinus) is a small bear species characterized by having a long lower lip and palate for sucking insects. As such, they are also called “labiated bear”. (Ref.1) They have a long shaggy black coat over the shoulders. Brown and grey hairs may be present, rendering a cinnamon pelage on some sloth bears. (Ref.2) A whitish or yellowish U- or Y-shaped patch is present on the chest. (Ref.3) Sloth bears are likened to sloths in a way that they are always hanging upside down on tree branches. Nevertheless, they move at a pace faster than sloths. Their huge feet enable them to gallop fast. (Ref.2)
The body length of adult sloth bears measure typically up to 150 cm to 190 cm. Males weigh between 80 kg and 140 kg whereas females weigh between 55 kg and 95 kg. (Ref.3)
Sloth bears are myrmecophagous. They feed on ants and termites, aside from fruits. They have a large mobile snout, large tongues, and flat, broad molars. They also lack an inner pair of upper incisors, which help suck termites through the gap. They can close their nostrils voluntarily, which is essential as a defense strategy against termite secretions. (Ref.2)
Sloth bears are native to the Indian subcontinent. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed the species as Vulnerable Species. (Ref.2)
For more photos and info on sloth bears, especially their habitat, distribution, reproduction, and social system: see Sloth Bear – Bears of the World.
• Kingdom: Animalia
• Phylum: Chordata
• Class: Mammalia
• Order: Carnivora
• Family: Ursidae
Scientific name:Melursus ursinus
- The forest, the jungle, and the prairie; or, Scenes with the trapper and the hunter in many lands : Alfred Elliott : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive. (2012). Internet Archive. https://archive.org/details/forestjungleand00elligoog/page/n10/mode/2up
- Melursus ursinus (sloth bear). (2020). Animal Diversity Web. https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Melursus_ursinus/
- Sloth Bear. (2017). International Association for Bear Research and Management. https://www.bearbiology.org/bear-species/sloth-bear/
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