SLOTH BEAR/Behaviour, Distribution, Habitat, Size, Weight, IUCN stetus

SLOTH BEAR

SLOTH BEAR

 

DESCRIPTION: This widespread peninsular bear is unfortunately familiar to most Indians as the performing bear in the streets A forest bear with a long snout and long, shaggy hair, the Sloth Bear is so named because of its lumbering  gait. The hair is black, long and matted, and the all-black appearance is broken only at four places; its cream to dirty yellow long muzzle (the colour stopping at the eyes, often encircling the eyes as well), its white, V-shaped chest marking, off- white patches at the ends of the limbs, and the ivory-coloured claws. The hair is particularly long over the head and shoulders, giving it a maned appearance, and is most sparse on the legs and undersides, at places being almost hairless. The snout is long and the lips are so protrusible that they can be stretched over the nostrils as a cover. The front two incisors are absent. Both these features assist it in its insectivorous diet, especially in sucking up termites from termite mounds. Aiding it in this specialized diet are also its well-developed, broad paws, armed with sickle-shaped, long claws. The front legs are bowed and the foot pads are black but hairless unlike in the Himalayan Black Bear. The tail is slightly longer than other Indian bears.

BEHAVIOUR: This bear uses its long claws to tear up termite mounds, and sucks up termites and ants through the gap in its dentition due to its missing front incisors. It can be lethal if confronted as it is dim-sighted and rears up on its hind legs and bites or claws when alarmed.

DISTRIBUTION: Throughout peninsular India, south of the Himalayas up to Assam in the North–East in a patchy fashion. Absent in the high Himalayas although present up to the Terai and low foothills. In the peninsula, absent in the western desert, semi-arid and non-forested areas of southern and central India.

HABITAT: It inhabits a wide variety of habitat including moist and dry deciduous forest, scrubland and grassland. In central India, it can be found near inhabited areas and it comes into agricultural fields especially if the mahua (Madhuca indica) is in flower. Generally found below 1,500 m although can go up to 2,000 m in the Western Ghats.

 Size: 140–190 cm

IUCN  Status: Vulnerable

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