Sloth bear in profile

Sloth bear

Insect eaters

Type

giant panda

Mammals

Area

Map of Asian countries

Asia

Endangered Status

Threatened

facts

size
4.5–6.2 feet
length
The average bed is 6.25 feet long.
Sloth bear next to a bed.

Sloth bears are 2–3 feet high at the shoulder. They can weigh 110–320 pounds. egg

food
insects,
fruit, honey, sugarcane, egg
omnivore
habitat
forests,
grassland
forest

description

Sloth bear portrait

description

They're not sloths

Sloth bears share a few characteristics with sloths—including shaggy hair around their shoulders and 3-inch-long claws—but that's about all. Sloth bears are very active, they are usually in search of food, and while they are good at climbing trees, they spend just as much of their time on the ground as they do in the treetops.

Sloth bear with snout in tree log.

Vacuuming up dinner

Sloth bears are well equipped to feed on their favorite snack—termites. The bears use their long claws to tear apart rotting logs to find termites. They can vacuum termites and ants right out of nest mounds and rock crevices by using their large snout, tongue, and lips to form a powerful sucking tube. Sloth bears can close their nostrils, to keep the termites out of their nose.

Sleepy sloth bear

Sleep schedule

Sloth bears don't hibernate, like some bears. They are active during the day and sleep in caves and near rivers at night, unless they are living close to humans. When sloth bears are near humans, they often look for food at night and sleep during the day, to avoid potential conflict.

Young sloth bear cub.

Threats they face

In the past, thousands of young sloth bears were taken from their mothers by people who mistreated them, training them to "dance" to make money from villagers and tourists. While that is rare today, they face new threats from humans who are moving into places where sloth bears live, leading to conflicts. Poaching of sloth bears for illegal wildlife trade is another threat, as bears' body parts are being used in folk medicines and exotic cooking.