Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild


Image (C) Michael Vickers

The brown bear is one of the largest carnivores on earth. Its peak activity is during the early morning and evening and has a home range of up to 2,000 square kilometres.


Class: Mammals
Order: Carnivores
Family: Ursidae
Species: Ursus arctos


There are several recognized subspecies of brown bear ranging in weight from a relatively small 80kg to a much larger 780kg. When standing on its hind legs a male brown bear can reach a height of almost 3 metres.  


Brown bears are the most widely distributed bear in the world, found in North America, Europe, and Asia.

Map showing distribution of the Brown Bear

brown bear distribution map


Due to its expansive range, the brown bear inhabits a wide variety of habitats and is found in forest, woodland, desert and semi-desert regions, along coastlines and in tundra.


Brown bears are omnivorous, consuming both plant and meat products including berries, roots, sprouts, fungi, fish, insects, and small mammals.


Brown bears have a distinctive shoulder hump, made of strong muscles which are used to dig up roots and tear apart logs to find food. They will dig through hard soil and rocky ground using their long sharp claws to make their dens.


Bears will hibernate for 5-6 months from October/November.  They rely on fat they have stored up in the previous months and can lose up to 40% of their body weight during hibernation. Their heart rate and body temperature drop, and they curl up to conserve heat.  The female brown bear gives birth during hibernation.


Brown bears tend to be solitary animals, except for females and their cubs.  At times they will congregate at major food sources such as salmon spawning grounds.


Females mature between the age of 5 and 7 years, while males mature a few years later. A brown bear’s embryos will undergo delayed implantation which means they remain suspended in the uterus for up to six months and will only implant and grow if the female has enough reserves to survive the winter hibernation. Litters have between 1 and 4 cubs, but the usual is 2. By the time the mother wakes from hibernation the cubs are big enough to follow her out of the den.

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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