Sloth Bear

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Sloth Bear

 

(Melursus ursinus), a mammal of the family Ursidae. It is characterized by a long and mobile snout and lips that can protrude greatly. Its claws are long and sickleshaped, adapted for tree climbing and digging in the ground for plant roots and termite nests; sloth bears dig holes up to 1.5 m deep searching for termites. The sloth bear’s body is massive and clumsy and is covered with thick, shaggy fur that forms a sort of mane on the neck and shoulders. Body length, up to 180 cm; height at the shoulders, 61–91 cm; weight, 54–136 kg (usually 90–115 kg). The coloration is shiny black; the tip of the snout a muddy gray, and there is a white horseshoe-shaped marking on the chest.

The sloth bear is found in mountainous and hilly forests of Hindustan and Ceylon. It is primarily nocturnal. It feeds on fruit, the green parts of plants, and insects. It often climbs trees. The animal is active all year. The cubs (one to two, less frequently, three) are born from October through February (usually in December-January). In some localities sloth bears damage sugarcane plantations, date palm groves, and apiaries. They are hunted, and in many areas of Hindustan their numbers are sharply diminished; their fur is not of great commercial value.