IUCN threat status:

Vulnerable (VU)

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Biology

Sloth bears are mainly solitary except for mothers with their cubs. They occupy home ranges that are marked by stripping bark from trees, although intruders appear to be tolerated. Adults are generally active throughout both the day and night, except for females with cubs, which seem to restrict their activity to daylight hours. The mating season is recorded to run from June to July, although it may run year-round in some areas. A number of males will follow a receptive female around for days, mating with her in turn, and generally lacking aggression between each other (5). Females give birth (usually to two cubs) after a gestation period of around six to seven months (5) (6), in a den located in the base of a hollow tree. She will remain with her cubs for the first three months and once they are able to leave the safety of the den they will spend the majority of the time riding on her back. Cubs stay with their mother for up to 2.5 years and females therefore only breed at two or three year intervals (5). Sloth bears are unique amongst bears in that the majority of their diet is composed of insects, particularly termites and ants (5). Breaking open a termite mound with its strong front claws, the sloth bear will then insert its snout and blow away earth and dust before sucking the termites into their mouth (4). The lack of upper incisors creates a channel through which the bear sucks insects, and they are able to voluntarily close their nostrils, which prevents the inhalation of dust (5). Sloth bears also feed on honey, enduring the stings of bees to obtain honeycombs (2), as well as eggs, carrion, vegetation and fruits when in season (6).

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Source: ARKive

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