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Brown Bear

Scientific name: Ursus arctos


Brown Bear - Ursus arctos

Brown Bear - Ursus arctos

Photo © Suzann Julien / iStockPhoto.
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The brown bear (Ursus arctos) is among the largest and most powerful of all land carnivores. Brown bears have non-retractable claws that they use primarily for digging. They can run at a considerable clip despite their large size and are know to reach speeds of up to 35mph. Brown bears have a coat of black, brown or tan fur with longer outer hair often of a different color. They have a sizable mass of muscle on their shoulders that gives them necessary strength to dig.

Brown bears are usually solitary animals. Occasionally though, bears may gather to feed at salmon-rich fishing spots. Another exception to their solitary lifestyle is that of females with their cubs. The mother bear remains with her bear cubs until the cubs are ready for independence (2 to 3 years of age).

Brown bears are more active in the morning and evening and often rest during the day. Seasonal activity of brown bears varies depending on where they live. Bears excavate dens in sheltered ground (such as on a slope or behind a large rock) in which they sleep and during the winter months can enter a deep sleep and their body temperature can drop several degrees.

Brown bears live in a variety of habitats including boreal forests, alpine forests and meadows, tundra, and coastal regions. Their range is the most extensive of all bears and includes northern and central Europe, Asia, Alaska, Canada, and the western United States (with populations in the Sierra Nevada and Rockies).


There are many conflicting classification schemes for brown bears and consequently the number of subspecies varies widely (ranging from as few as five to as many as 90). Some of the more commonly recognized subspecies include the grizzly bear, Kodiak bear, Alaskan bear, Eurasian brown bear, Syrian brown bear, Hokkaido bear, Sibierian brown bear, Tibetan blue bear and Himalayan brown bear.

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