Russia's Bears - Giants of the Landscape

The bear is a mammal and part of the family Ursidae under the order Carnivora. Characteristics common to the bear are its good sense of smell and hearing, its short stubby tail and it has long, thick, shaggy fur that can vary in color from white, blonde to brown and black. The color also varies within the species, for instance the American black bear can be reddish-brown, brown, black and bluish-black.

The body and the limbs of the bear are large and powerful, allowing them to stand on their back legs. They are also well known for their long snouts, round ears and teeth that are used for both defense and tools to be used when they are scrounging around for food. The black and brown bear have color vision, unlike other animals, to help them identify the differences between fruits and nuts.

There are between 32 to 42 teeth in a bear’s mouth, which are designed more for food and defense than for killing prey. Normal canine teeth are large and pointed to kill prey more effectively, but with bears they have smaller canines and broad, flat molar’s to break up and grind their plant food into smaller pieces.

For each broad paw there are five non-retractable claws that are used to open termite nests and beehives, climb trees, dig up roots or catch small prey. Bears have a plantigrade stance, which means that they walk with their metatarsals and podials flat on the ground, whereas most other carnivores walk in such a way that they are able to move fast. Although having said that they are not able to move fast they are still able to run as fast as 50 km an hour.

In all the different bear species you will find that the male is larger then the female, though the height difference varies between species. If you take the male polar bear it can weigh twice as much as its counterpart, whereas in the smaller bear species there is less of a difference. An average bear lives up to 25 to 40 years, but can live longer in zoos. You may even spot a bear whilst touring through one of Russia's nature reserves.


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