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Name: Asiatic Black Bear
Scientific Name: Ursus thibetanus
Other names: Also known as “Moon Bear” because of the white crescent mark on their chest.
What they eat? Omnivorous but mainly plants (grasses, berries, nuts, insects such as ants and bees)
How many cubs: One or two cubs in every two or more years.
Hibernation period: Early December to mid April (in Karuizawa)
Habitat: Forests (mainly deciduous)
Social life: Other than females with cubs, they live alone.
Body length: 1.2~1.4 meters. Has a very flexible body and can get into small spaces.
Weight: 60~140 kg, Males are usually larger than females.
Nose: Extremely sensitive.
Eyes: Poor color recognition. It is said that they cannot recognize some colors.
Ears: Sensitive hearing.
Fur color: Jet-black with a white crescent marking on the chest.
Crescent Mark: Shape and size differ with each bear.
Some may have only a small spot, or does not have any marking at all.
Claws Used for digging and climbing trees.
Legs: They can run almost 40 km/hour. Adept at climbing trees and can also swim.
Teeth: Has flat molars like ours, and pointed canines.

Distribution in Japan

Distribution of bears in Japan
  • In Japan, Asiatic Black Bears live on the mainland (Honshu) and Shikoku Island. They do not appear in Hokkaido, the North Island, and brown bears (Ursus arctos) only inhabit Hokkaido.
  • The Asiatic Black Bear population in west Japan is small, and there are few sightings reported on Kyushu Island. There are also many areas in which their habitats are fragmented by roads and other man-mad objects.
  • Asiatic black bears need to eat large amounts of acorns in autumn to thrive. Thus the distribution of Asiatic Black Bears coincides with that of deciduous forests like Beech (Fagus crenata) and Oak (Quercus mongolica).
  • Distribution in Asia

  • Other than in Japan, they are found in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, China, Taiwan and Russia. More detailed research on the distribution is currently being conducted.
  • Bear Signs in Forests

    A claw mark on a tree A paw print When a bear eat acorns, he sits in a tree, breaks and pulls branches to bunch them together


    Year in the life of an Asiatic Black Bear

    Spring: Come out of torpor and eat newly sprouted greens. Females who give birth to cubs during the winter come out a little later than males.

    Early summer: Breeding season for bears, but fertilized eggs will not be implanted until December. They are not monogamous and often breed with different mates. 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 year old cubs are separated from their mothers during this time of the year.

    Summer: There are not many natural foods for bears during the summer. Usually bears eat insects such as ants, but some bears are drawn to town by the smell of garbage.

    A winter den
    Autumn: Eat lots of nuts such as acorns and chestnuts to store fat. It seems that bears tend to venture into town during years when food sources are scarce. It is said that females who do not store enough fat during this season will not fall pregnant.

    Winter: Bears go into torpor. Bear's torpor is not considered a "true hibernation" as in the Siberian Chipmunk or the reptiles. The body temperature of bears drops only a few degrees in Celsius. Pregnant females give birth to one or two cubs during the torpor, around February, in their dens.

    Conflicts with human beings

    A damaged tree
    Asiatic black bears have to be protected in some areas. On the other hand, over one thousand bears are killed every year due to hunting and preventing agricultural damage, and so on.
    Damaged crops