Sun Bear

Sun Bear          Ursus malayanus

Type of Animal:

Tropical forest

Found in much of S.E. Asia plus parts of Bangladesh & India/Burma border. Highest concentrations on islands of Borneo & Sumatra plus Malaysia & Cambodia. Possibly extreme S. China.

Black w/ sun shape on chest, has dog-like muzzle hence other name “dog bear”, small round ears, large paws w/ sickle-shaped claws, stocky/muscular build, smallest bear in world.

Honey, berries, fruit, grubs, termites, bees, ants, wasps, beetles, other insects, insect larvae, roots, coconuts, heart of palm, leaves, eggs, sprouts, turtles, lizards, birds, shoots, tubers, veggies, snails, rodents, hares, nuts, carrion, refuse

Status in Wild:

Breeding from zoos & wildlife parks. Setup of rescue centers.

Solitary or male-female pairs

Additional Info:


Male-66-154 lbs
Female-44-88 lbs
Young-4-6 lbs

3 months

Life Span:
15 years in wild, up to 25 years in captivity

Male-5 ft
Female-4 ft

Body Length:
Male-5 ft
Female-4 ft

Tail Length:
4.8 in

Main predators of adults are tigers, leopards, & large pythons. Clouded leopards & male black bears prey on cubs.

Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre about 25 miles from Cambodian capital Phnom Penh has taken in many Sun Bears & Asian Black Bears since 1997.

Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre founded in Sabah on Malaysian side of Borneo in 2008 to provide care/rehabilitation/release of orphaned & captive sun bears.

Threatened due to persecution as crop pest/poultry killer, hunting for meat/fur/traditional medicine trade in gall bladders/other parts, logging, habitat loss, killing of mothers so cubs can be sold as pets/dancing bears, slash/burn agriculture, & climate change.

Fights over territory/mates vicious & sometimes deadly.

They are nocturnal, mostly coming out at night.

Cubs stay w/ mom for up to 2 years. Unlike many bears, male parental care has been observed on occasion in this species.

Believed to be most elusive bear, much is yet to be learned about them.

Fun Fact(s):
Malay word for Sun Bear mean “one who likes to sit high.”

Also called “honey bear” due to love for honey.

They’ve been known to turn around & bite an attacker while in the predator’s mouth!

Being the smallest bears, what they lack in size they make up for in fierce temperament. Often, abandoned as pets when they mature due to fierce temper.

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