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Asian Black Bear's :  Moon Bear's 
in the Mountain

Asian Black Bear's: Moon Bear's
Food Habits
Denning and Hibernation

Asian Black Bears:  Moon Bear in the Mountains
The Asian black bear’s scientific name, Selenarctos thibetanus, literally means "moon bear of Tibet".  Also called the Tibetan black bear and the Himalayan black bear, this sturdy and highly adaptable forest animal can be found from the bases of eastern Asia’s coastal foothills up to 13,000 feet (4,000 m).  It occurs in Iran, Afghanistan, and northern Pakistan, east through the Himalayas, as far South as Bangladesh and Laos, North throughout the Tibetan Plateau,  Manchuria  and other forested areas in China.  Populations of   Asian Black bears are also found on Formosa (Taiwan)  and the Japanese islands of Honshu and Shikoku.  Until recently, it also occurred on the Japanese island of Kyushu


Description of the Moon Bear
  It is called the moon bear because of the large , white crescent-shaped mark  appearing on its chest.  The rest of the body fur is jet black with a brown or tan muzzle and a whitish chin.  The hair on the neck and shoulders forms a thick, long manelike ruff.  Individual bears living in the South, such as in Eastern India’s Assam hills, have shorter and thinner coats with less underwool (especially in winter) than those living at higher altitudes or in more Northern regions.  The ears are large and set rather far apart on their big, roundish heads.  The short claws are very strong and quite useful in climbing trees.
  The moon bear is medium sized, averaging 55 to 65 inches (140 to 165 cm) long.  Average weights range from 200 to 255 pounds (90 to 115 kg).  A large male may measure 77 inches (195 cm) long and weigh over 400 pounds (180 kg) when fat.  Females normally are slightly smaller.


Food Habits of the Moon Bear
  The Asian bear spends it day sleeping in a cave or hollow tree, coming out at dusk to seek food, but in some areas they are active  during the day as well.  In India and Tibet, these bears are carnivorous and often kill sheep, goats, and cattle.  They are said to be able to take animals as large as adult buffalo’s by breaking their necks.  Moon bears also eat termites, beetle larvae, honey, fruits, nuts, berries, and carrion.  In the Indochina region they are frequently seen around villages, feeding on grain in the fields.
  In Japan, because they are considered major economic pests, the food habits of these black bears have been extensively studied.  Here, the moon bears subsist mostly on plant material throughout the year:  In spring, they forage for beechnuts and oak nuts that feel the previous year and graze on fresh green shoots.  In summer, they switch to wild cherries, dogwood, and ants  and other insects, and during fall, they forge and fatten for winter on the new crops  of beechnuts and acorns.
Denning and Hibernation
  Asian black bears in the southern parts of their range may sleep for only short periods during the winter.  Often they simply descend to a lower, warmer elevation where they can find food and remain active all winter.  (However, pregnant females almost always den.)  In colder and more northern regions, the cycle of hibernation behavior is well established.  Hollow logs and trees are the bears preferred denning sites, and they may remain asleep from November through late March or early April.  In Japan, hibernating sites are nearly always located where deep snow will cover the den.  An insulating winter snow cover of more than 3 feet (1 m) is a key factor in the survival of Japanese Moon bear.

by: John Froilan Reyes