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Favorite Images of Sun Bears

Animals list created by kathy Avatar

A list of my favorite images of sun bears.


The sun bear (Helarctos malayanus) is a bear found in tropical forest habitats of Southeast Asia.

The Malayan sun bear is also known as the "honey bear", which refers to its voracious appetite for honeycombs and honey. However, "honey bear" can also refer to a kinkajou, which is an unrelated member of the Procyonidae.

The sun bear's fur is usually jet-black, short and sleek with some under-wool; some individual sun bears are reddish or gray. Two whirls occur on the shoulders, from where the hair radiates in all directions. A crest is seen on the sides of the neck and a whorl occurs in the centre of the breast patch. Always, a more or less crescent-shaped pale patch is found on the breast that varies individually in colour ranging from buff, cream or dirty white to ochreous.

The skin is naked on the upper lip. The tongue is long and protrusible. The ears are small and round, broad at the base, and capable of very little movement. The front legs are somewhat bowed with the paws turned inwards, and the claws are cream.

The sun bear is the smallest of the bears. Adults are about 120–150 cm (47–59 in) long and weigh 27–80 kg (60–176 lb). Males are 10–20% larger than females.

The muzzle is short and light coloured and in most cases the white area extends above the eyes. The paws are large and the soles are naked, which is thought to be an adaptation for climbing trees.

The claws are large, curved and pointed. They are sickle-shaped; the front paw claws are long and heavy. The tail is 30–70 mm (1.2–2.8 in) long.

During feeding, the sun bear can extend the exceptionally long tongue 20–25 cm (7.9–9.8 in) to extract insects and honey. It has very large teeth, especially canines, and high bite forces in relation to its body size, which are not well understood, but could be related to its frequent opening of tropical hardwood trees (with its powerful jaws and claws) in pursuit of insects, larvae or honey.

The entire head is also large, broad and heavy in proportion to the body, and the palate is wide in proportion to the skull.

The overall morphology of this bear (inward turned front feet, ventrally flattened chest, powerful forelimbs with large claws) indicates adaptation for extensive climbing.

The bear’s habitat is associated with tropical evergreen forests.

Bees, beehives and honey are important food items of sun bears. They are omnivores, feeding primarily on termites, ants, beetle larvae, bee larvae and a large variety of fruit species, especially figs when available.

They have been observed eating fruits from the durian species Durio graveolens. Occasionally, growth shoots of certain palms and some species of flowers are consumed, but otherwise vegetative matter appears rare in the diet.

In the forests of Kalimantan, fruits of Moraceae, Burseraceae and Myrtaceae make up more than 50% of the fruit diet. They are known to tear open trees with their long, sharp claws and teeth in search of wild bees and leave behind shattered tree trunks.

It is classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as the large-scale deforestation that has occurred throughout Southeast Asia over the past three decades has dramatically reduced suitable habitat for the sun bear. The global population is thought to have declined by more than 30% over the past three bear generations.

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