All About Andeans
What makes an Andean Bear different than other bears? Where are they found in the wild? Learn more by scrolling down about what makes these 'masked' bears unique and intriguing.
My What Eyes You Have.....
Did you know that an Andean Bear is also called a "Spectacled Bear?" It receives this name based on the facial markings that resemble spectacles, or glasses, around their eyes. These marking are unique to each bear, similar to a fingerprint of a human, and help us to identify bears. These markings stay with the bear throughout their lifetime, can appear on their faces and chests, and the amount of tan/black is variable depending on where the bear lives.
Claws, teeth, and big paws are just some of the characteristics that classify the Andean Bear as a carnivore. Their paws and claws help them to navigate trees while searching for food and making nests, while their sharp teeth help to bite into tough plants. Andean Bears are considered 'mid-size' bears, standing at about two to three feet at the shoulder and measuring about five to six feet in length.
Male bears can grow to be upwards of 30-50% larger than female bears. A male Andean Bear can weigh upwards of 340pounds (154 kg), while females infrequently weigh in heavier than 180 pounds (81 kg).
Pass The Veggies Please....
While most of us have a limit when it comes to wanting to eat our veggies, Andean Bears can't get enough of them! As omnivores, Andean Bears eat a variety of items, including plants, fruits, veggies, nuts, and meat.
These plant-loving bears are known to eat over 300 varieties of plants, as well as over 20 different kinds of animals. While fruits and bromeliads tend to be their preferred items, Andean Bears will also eat items such as berries, cactus flowers, grasses, and a variety of small animals. Occasionally, Andean Bears will make their way onto cattle farms and hunt cattle or ravage cornfields, which can create conflicts with farmers.
These bears play a very valuable roll in the environment through seed disposal via their droppings from all of the fruit they consume. Andean Bears disperse seeds as they travel the forests, aiding in growing the forests in which they reside.
A Nest Fit For a Bear....
Andean Bears are true arboreal bears, which means that they spend a lot of time up in the treetops. Their long, sharp front claws make them well suited for life in the trees, and these bears will often build leafy nests in the treetops by bending branches, sticks, leaves, and fronds into a large circular nest, both in the wild and in captivity. The bears will use these nests for feeding and sleeping.
But wait, what about during the winter months? Bears usually live in dens during the winter, right? Not the Andean Bear! Another characteristic of the Andean Bear that makes them unique, is that they do not hibernate like their relatives, the black and brown bear. Since their diets can be found year-round, they are also active year-round, and are often characterized as diurnal, meaning they are most active during the daytime.
Where In the World Is An Andean Bear....
Did you know that Andean Bears are South America's ONLY native bear species? They are a rather shy and elusive species, which makes them difficult for sciences to study in the wild. Andean Bears reside in the Andes, but are also found in mountain ranges from Venezuela to Bolivia. As arboreal bears, they tend to reside in areas between 6,000 - 8,800 feet above sea level. Andean Bears can be found in the rainforest, cloud forest, grasslands, and scrublands.