Wildlife Discovery: The Spectacled Bear

The spectacled bear is small and dark, ranging in color from black to brown, and a few have a reddish tinge. It has unique circular or semicircular creamy white markings (spectacles) on the face around the eyes, reminiscent of spectacles. Lines and patches of white usually extend onto the throat and chest as well. The amount and pattern of the white markings can be quite variable.

The spectacled bear is small and dark, ranging in color from black to brown, and a few have a reddish tinge.

It has unique circular or semicircular creamy white markings (spectacles) on the face around the eyes, reminiscent of spectacles.

Lines and patches of white usually extend onto the throat and chest as well. The amount and pattern of the white markings can be quite variable.

Spectacled bears get their name from the light colored rings around their eyes that make some of the bears look like they are wearing glasses.

These shy bears are the only species that live in South America. Little is known about these rare bears because of a lack of research and the remoteness of the areas where they live. Because they live in warm climates, their fur is thinner than that of North American bear species.

Spectacled bears have long claws that allow them to climb trees very well.

They also have large, flat molars so they can chew very tough plants that are found in the rainforest such as palms, cacti, and orchid bulbs.

There are few measurements available for this bear. Adult spectacled bears can weigh 150 to 180 centimeters (60 to 72 inches) and males may be 30 to 40 percent larger than between 63-173 kg.

Males weigh 100 to 155 kilograms and females weigh 64 to 82 kilograms.

Spectacled bears are highly adaptable and are found in a wide range of habitats, including rainforest, cloud forest, plateaus, dry forest, steppe lands, inland deserts and coastal scrub desert. Possibly because of loss of habitat and persecution by humans, they appear to be more common in heavy forest.

The Spectacled bear is found in the area around or heart of the Andes of South America.

Little is known about this species. Rarest of the bear species they are the only bear found in South America.

Females reach sexual maturity between four and seven years of age. They have a variable mating season. Mating can occur in April, May, and June, and pairs stay together for a week or two. Litters of one, two, or occasionally three cubs (usually two) and are born from November to February. This is summer in South America.

Mostly they eat vegetation, but will eat meat when given the opportunity. Spectacled bears eat a wide variety of foods, including rabbits, mice, birds, berries, grasses, palms and orchid bulbs, but have a strong preference for the leaves, bases, and hearts of plants.

Spectacled bears are generally nocturnal, feeding and traveling at dawn and dusk. They often spend their days in tree nests that are constructed as a platform to sleep in.

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