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Sloth Bear

Sloth Bear

Sloth Bear

Sloth Bear Range Map (South Asia)
Sloth Bear Range Map (South Asia)
Latin Name Melursus ursinus
Conservation Status Vulnerable
Location South Asia
Colour Brown/Black
Length 1.4 - 1.8 m (4.5 - 6 ft)
Tail 7 - 12 cm (2.75 - 4.75 inches)
Weight 55 - 190 Kgs (120 - 420 lbs)
Life Expectancy

20 - 25 Yrs

Main Characteristics

Sloth Bears are small to medium sized bears. They have a body length of 1.4 - 1.8 m (4.5 - 6 ft), a tail length of 7 - 12 cms (2.75 - 4.75 inches) and they weigh between 55 and 190 Kgs (120 - 420 lbs).

They have long fur that is brown or black in colour with a "V" shaped white marking on their chest. The snout of a Sloth Bear is pale coloured, long, with bare lips and no upper incisors, which are adaptations for its insect based diet.

Sloth Bears have short powerful limbs and their paws have long, non retractable claws which are approximately 8 cms (3 inches) long.

They are nocturnal bears and they mainly locate their food by smell.


Sloth Bears are found in thorn forests, wet forests and grasslands of Sri Lanka, India, Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh.

They are solitary animals except during the breeding season and a male Sloth Bear will have a home range of 13 Kms (8 miles) that overlaps with other Sloth Bear ranges. This is small compared to other bears but it is most likely due to the fact that they do not suffer a shortage of food, hence they do not have to travel far to find it.


Sloth Bears are omnivores and their diet mainly consists of ants, termites, bees, honey, eggs, tubers, berries, fruit, carcasses and occasionally small vertebrates.

They specialise in eating ants and termites. They tear open nests with their claws, close their nostrils and suck up insects through the gap formed by their missing incisor teeth. The sucking noise that a Sloth Bear makes can be heard from a fair distance away.


After a gestation period of between 6 and 7 months, 1 - 2 cubs are born in a den. The cubs will remain in the den for 2 - 3 months after which they will ride on their mothers back, clinging to her long fur, for a further 6 months. When they reach approximately 2 years old they will become independent.

Sloth Bears reach sexual maturity between 2 and 3 years of age and their mating season is between April and July.


Predators such as tigers, wolves and leopards will prey on young Sloth bears. Humans are the main predators for adult Sloth Bears as they use their gall bladder in eastern medicine.


There are two subspecies of Sloth Bear and these are:

Indian Sloth Bear
(Melursus ursinus ursinus)

Sri Lankan Sloth Bear
(Melursus ursinus inornatus)

Interesting Facts

Sloth Bears are also known as:
Indian Bears
Jungle Jokers
Lip Bears

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