Bears have huge, hairy heads with small eyes. Their ears are small and rounded. Bears have a very short tail. Bears have short, strong legs with large feet. Each foot have five toes. Each toe ends with a long heavy claw.
The bear's body is covered with thick fur. This fur varies from one species to another. Some bears have light patches on certain parts of their bodies. The Andean bear from the South American Andes Mountains has white fur on its chest and around its eyes like a mask. The Asiatic black bear has long thick fur around its neck and shoulders making a mane around its throat. In the United States and Canada, the American black bear is covered with brown or reddish fur. The Malayan bear is covered with black very short fur. Some bears are even almost white.
Most wild bears live in the Northern Hemisphere above the equator. Bears are found in Asia, Europe, North America, and in the Arctic. Spectacled bears live in South America. No wild bears live in Africa, Antarctica, or Australia.
Bears usually live alone. During the winter they hibernate. They build a den in caves, under brush piles, and in logs. Some kinds of bears make their homes from twigs or dig holes in hillsides.
Bears are meat eating animals. They hunt mice, ground squirrels, and other small animals. They catch fish. Some favorite foods are ants, birds' eggs, and grubs. They will eat lambs and pigs. They also eat acorns, berries, fruits, nuts, and leaves and roots of plants. Bears really like honey.
Bears wander to search for food. They claim a 10 to 12 square mile territory as a private hunting ground.
Most cubs are born while the mother is hibernating. The mother usually has 2 cubs, but can have up to 4. Cubs weigh only 1/2 to 1 pound when they are born. They are born with their eyes closed. Cubs do not open their eyes for one month. By fall the cubs may weigh up to 40 pounds. Cubs stay with their mother for one to two years. Wild bears live from 15 to 30 years.