What do grizzly bears eat

grizzly bear

The grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) is a subspecies of the brown bear (Ursus arctos) and counts within the great bear family (Ursidae) to the genus Ursus.


Depending on the area of ​​distribution, grizzly bears reach a body length of up to 280 cm, a shoulder height of up to 150 cm, a tail length of a good 10 cm and a weight of 460 to 780 kg (Novak, 1999). Males are sometimes significantly larger than females. The color of the fur is also very different. Depending on the occurrence, the fur is gray-brown, yellow-brown or dark brown. Food supply, climate and habitat play a decisive role in the color of the coat. The body is sturdy and sturdy. The legs are very long and strong. The feet end in five toes with massive claws. The claws cannot be retracted. The rounded head is massive and sits on a mighty neck.

Grizzly bears have very fine senses. The sense of smell in particular is very well developed. They can smell their food for several kilometers. Eyesight and hearing are also extremely well developed. Apart from the female and her young, the animals live as solitary animals in their sometimes huge territories. Your territories can be up to 1,000 square kilometers. In the cold winter months, grizzly bears hibernate. For this resting phase, they eat a thick layer of fat in summer and autumn. In many areas of distribution, grizzly bears are threatened with extinction or have already become extinct. The largest populations are now only in the northwestern United States and western Canada.


Today's main distribution areas extend over the northwestern United States and western Canada, particularly in British Columbia. Hundreds of thousands of years ago, the first bears made their way to North America via the Bering Strait. There they spread quickly and widely. Smaller populations can still be found today in northwest Mexico and the southwest of the United States. The large national parks such as Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park now represent a few secured retreat points.


Grizzly bears are omnivores. In addition to berries, plants and their roots, they also eat meat and fish. Insects and their maggots as well as birds and their brood are also on their menu. They do not disdain carrion either. On the coast they mostly eat fish during the salmon migrations. Of the salmon they usually only eat the very fatty skin, the fin and the roe. A grizzly bear needs between 15 and 20 kg a day.


Grizzly bears reach sexual maturity around four years of age. The mating season extends over the summer months. However, the fertilized egg does not begin to grow immediately, but only at the beginning of winter. After a gestation period of two months, the female gives birth to between two and four young animals during hibernation. The little bears have a birth weight of 300 to 400 grams and a length of 30 cm. At first you are still naked and blind. The female warms the young between the stomach and arms. At around 30 days old, the cubs open their eyes. Because of the high-fat milk, the animals grow up very quickly. When they leave the cave in spring, the young are fully developed and can follow the mother. They are suckled for a total of four months, but stay with their mother for another two to three years, who teaches them everything they need to know. The mother vigorously defends her offspring - also against male conspecifics. Grizzly bears live to be around 30 years old in the wild.


Biocenosis with black bears

The grizzly bear and the American black bear (Ursus americanus) share the distribution areas, but are often found in different biotopes (grizzly often more open landscape, black bear forest). Much more often than previously thought, however, the habitats of the two species overlap. As a rule, the bears then avoid each other, mainly because they appear at different times. However, if an encounter occurs, for example due to sudden environmental changes and the associated change in food availability in certain areas, a grizzly bear can kill and eat a black bear. Such behavior has already been observed four times in Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding forests. The reason for this behavior can also be that black bears, which often try to save each other in trees when the two species meet, venture into wide plains without trees, where they are at the mercy of the larger grizzlies.


See also

  • Main Products: Bears (Ursidae)

Literature and sources

  • Ronald M. Nowak: Walker's Mammals of the World: v. 1 & 2. B&T, edition 6, 1999, (engl.) ISBN 0801857899
  • Don E. Wilson & DeeAnn M. Reeder: Mammal Species of the World, a Taxonomic & Geographic Reference. J. Hopkins Uni. Press, 3rd ed., 2005 ISBN 0801882214
  • David Macdonald: The great encyclopedia of mammals. Ullmann / tandem ISBN 3833110066
  • Hans Petzsch: Urania Animal Kingdom, 7 Vols., Mammals. Urania, Stuttgart (1992) ISBN 3332004999


Page Categories: Big Bears