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Sun Bear

Sun Bear

Sun Bear

Sun Bear Range Map (South East Asia)
Sun Bear Range Map (South East Asia)
Latin Name Helarctos malayanus
Conservation Status Vulnerable
Location South East Asia
Colour Brown/Black
Length 1.1 - 1.4 m (3.5 - 4.5 ft)
Tail Not Recorded
Weight 50 - 65 Kgs (110 - 145 lbs)
Life Expectancy

28 Yrs (in Captivity)

Main Characteristics

The Sun Bear is the smallest species of bear. Their body length is 1.1 - 1.4 m (3.5 - 4.5 ft), their tail length is not recorded and they weigh 50 - 60 Kgs (110 - 145 lbs).

They have poor eye sight but a good sense of smell which they use to detect food. They have an extremely long tongue which measures between 20 and 25 cms (8 - 10 inches) long.

Sun Bears have short black or dark brown water repellent fur that covers their whole body except for a yellow/orange crescent shape on their chest. They have flexible snouts and relatively, the largest canines of all the bear species. They have large, strong paws with naked soles and long, lightweight, sickle shaped claws.

Sun Bears have loose skin which enables them to turn around and defend themselves against predators. They are very aggressive bears, probably the most aggressive, and they will attack without being provoked.


Sun Bears inhabit the lowland tropical forests of South East Asia. They are excellent climbers and they spend a large amount of their time in the trees.

Sun Bears are thought to be solitary except those with cubs, however they have been spotted in pairs.


Sun Bears are omnivores and their diet mainly consists of lizards, birds, fruits, eggs, termites, berries, young tips of palm trees, insects, roots, nests of bees, cocoa and coconuts.

They use their front paws to break open trees in search of insects or sap, their long tongue to get at honey and their strong jaws to crack open coconuts.


After a gestation period of approximately 96 days a Sun Bear will give birth to 1 - 2 cubs on the forest floor. At birth the cubs will weigh between 280 and 340 g (10 - 12 oz) and they will be blind and helpless.

The cubs will be walking about by the time they reach 2 months old and they will be weaned at 4 months. They will stay with their mother until they are aged between 18 months and 2 years so they can learn how to survive.

Sun Bears reach sexual maturity when they are between 3 and 4 years old and as they don't hibernate, they reproduce all year round. They have been spotted living pairs which has lead to speculation that Sun Bears could be monogamous.


Predators of the Sun Bear are humans and large felines such as tigers.


There are two subspecies of Sun Bear:

Borneo Sun Bear
(Helarctos malayanus euryspilus)
They are endemic to the island of Borneo.

Helarctos malayanus malayanus

Interesting Facts

Sun Bears are the smallest bear species with the shortest fur.

Sun Bears are also known as:
Dog Bear
Honey Bear
Collared Bear
Malaysian Bear
Malay Bear

The Malayan name for the Sun Bear is basindo nan tenggil which means "he who likes to sit high".

Similar Animals

Brown Bear
Polar Bear
Giant Panda
Sloth Bear
Spectacled Bear
Asiatic Black Bear
American Black Bear


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