The Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) is one of the planet’s largest and most widespread terrestrial carnivores. Renowned for their immense size and prowess, these mammals have captivated the human imagination for centuries. Despite being large predators, Brown Bears display an impressive range of behavior and can exhibit different dietary and social habits depending on their environment.


The Brown Bear can be found in various habitats, ranging from the edge of deserts to high mountain forests and ice fields. In Europe and Asia, they are more commonly found in mountainous areas, while in North America, they are found mainly in Alaska and Canada, with a smaller population in the Rocky Mountains and the western Great Plains. They play a crucial role in the ecosystem by controlling other animal populations and helping distribute seeds in their droppings.


Brown Bears are pretty variable, with males being larger than females. Their diet primarily consists of both plants and animals, making them omnivores. They hibernate during the winter months and usually emerge in spring. Mating occurs from late spring to early summer, but the embryos do not develop until the mother bear hibernates.

Physical Description:

Brown Bears possess a robust and heavy body, with a large hump of muscle over their shoulders, giving them strength for digging and fighting. Their fur color varies from a light creamy shade to almost black, depending on the subspecies and region. The fur is dense and long, particularly on the shoulders and neck, where it can grow up to 4-5 inches. Their heads are large and round with a convex profile, and their ears are relatively small and rounded. They have powerful jaws and large, sharp claws up to six inches long.

The males are larger than the females, with adult males typically weighing between 300 and 860 pounds (136-390 kg), while females weigh between 200 and 450 pounds (90-205 kg). The height of an adult bear can range from 3.3 to 4.9 feet (1-1.5 meters) at the shoulder when standing on all fours, while their length can range from 5 to 9 feet (1.5-2.8 meters). The size can vary significantly based on the subspecies and the availability of food resources in a given region.

Lifespan: Wild: ~30 years || Captivity: ~50 years

Weight: Male: 300-860 lbs (136-390 kg) || Female: 200-450 lbs (90-205 kg)

Length: Male: 6.5-9 ft (2-2.8 m) || Female: 5-7.5 ft (1.5-2.3 m)

Height: Male: 3.9-4.9 ft (1.2-1.5 m) || Female: 3.3-4.2 ft (1-1.3 m) at Shoulder

Top Speed: 30 mph (48 km/h)

Native Habitat:

Brown Bears are highly adaptable and can be found in various habitats across the Northern Hemisphere. These habitats range from dense forests to open tundras, alpine meadows, arctic shrublands, and even semi-desert regions. The key factors that determine their habitat include the availability of food, water, shelter, and the presence of humans.

They use their excellent digging abilities in the forests to search for roots and bulbs. In mountainous regions, they can ascend to considerable heights in search of food, particularly during the summer when berries and other fruits are abundant. They take advantage of the abundant fish populations in coastal regions, particularly during salmon spawning seasons. Their ability to hibernate allows them to survive in harsh winters with scarce food.

Climate Zones:
Biogeographical Realms:

Diet & Feeding Habits:

Although classified as carnivores, Brown Bears have a surprisingly varied diet, reflecting their adaptability to different environments. They are technically omnivores, eating a wide range of foods depending on what’s available seasonally. Their diet includes berries, grasses, roots, nuts, honey, fish, small mammals, and even mammals such as deer and elk. In coastal areas, they are famous for their skill and precision in catching salmon during the fish’s annual migration.

Despite their ferocious reputation, the bulk of a Brown Bear’s diet can consist of vegetation. During spring, they often forage for plants, bulbs, and roots as they come out of hibernation. In the summer, their diet shifts towards protein-rich sources such as insects, small mammals, and fish, particularly in regions where salmon spawn. During autumn, they enter a period of intense eating known as hyperphagia, where they consume large quantities of food, particularly high-calorie foods like nuts and berries, to prepare for hibernation.

Mating Behavior:

Mating Description:

Brown Bears have a fascinating mating system characterized by intense male competition for access to females. Mating typically occurs between May and July, with a peak in June. During this time, males search extensively for receptive females, often engaging in fierce battles with other males for mating rights.

Females are induced ovulators, which means ovulation is triggered by mating. After mating, the fertilized eggs undergo delayed implantation, where they remain in the uterus but do not start developing until the mother bear enters her winter den, usually around November. This adaptation ensures that the cubs are born during the most optimal time of year when the mother has a safe, warm den to nurse and protect her cubs until spring.

Reproduction Season:

Birth Type:

Pregnancy Duration:

~243 Days

Female Name:


Male Name:


Baby Name:


Social Structure Description:

Brown Bears are generally solitary animals. Outside of the mating season, adults typically live and forage alone or in the company of their cubs. Males are mainly solitary and have large home ranges that they defend from other males, especially during the mating season.

Females with cubs form the basic social unit in Brown Bear populations. The mother is incredibly protective of her cubs and will fiercely defend them from any perceived threat, including other bears. Cubs remain with their mother for approximately two and a half years, during which time they learn crucial survival skills before dispersing to establish their home ranges.


Conservation Status:
Population Trend:


Wild: ~110,000 || Captivity: Unknown


The global population of Brown Bears is estimated to be around 110,000 individuals, with the vast majority living in the wild. The largest populations are Russia, the United States (primarily Alaska), and Canada. There are smaller populations in Europe and Asia, with some of the smallest and most endangered populations in the contiguous United States, Western Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia.

While overall populations are stable or increasing in some regions like North America and Northern Europe, Brown Bears have seen declines or even local extinction in other parts of their range. These local declines are primarily due to habitat loss, fragmentation, and human-wildlife conflict.

Population Threats:

The primary threats to Brown Bears are habitat loss, fragmentation, and human conflict. As human populations expand and wilderness areas shrink, Brown Bears lose critical habitat. Roads, towns, and other development not only remove bear habitat but can fragment the remaining habitat into isolated patches, preventing bears from moving freely to find food and mates.

Human conflict is another significant threat. As bears and humans come into closer contact, there can be increased incidences of bear attacks on humans or property, leading to bears being killed in retaliation or for safety reasons. Additionally, in some regions, bears are still hunted for their pelts, claws, and other body parts, often for illegal trade.

Conservation Efforts:

Conservation efforts for the Brown Bear are primarily centered on habitat preservation, reducing human-bear conflicts, and enforcing regulations against illegal hunting. Numerous protected areas have been established across their range, providing crucial bear refuges. Efforts are also being made to establish wildlife corridors to connect fragmented bear habitats, allowing them to move more freely.

Educational programs aimed at reducing human-bear conflicts have been implemented in many areas. These programs teach people how to properly store food and trash to avoid attracting bears and react when encountering a bear. Law enforcement efforts are being stepped up to combat this trade in places where bears are illegally hunted for their body parts.

Additional Resources:

Fun Facts

  • Brown Bears have an excellent sense of smell, even better than dogs. They can smell food from miles away.
  • Despite their large size, Brown Bears are remarkably agile and can run at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour.
  • Brown Bears can stand on their hind legs for short periods, often to get a better look at their surroundings.
  • A Brown Bear’s diet can consist of up to 90% plant material, despite being classified as a carnivore.
  • Brown Bears have been known to use rocks as tools to scratch themselves.
  • Brown Bears have a “delayed implantation,” which means the fertilized egg doesn’t implant and start developing until months after mating.
  • They are excellent swimmers and often catch fish or play in water.
  • Brown Bears have color vision and excellent hearing.
  • The Grizzly Bear and the Kodiak Bear are both subspecies of the Brown Bear.
  • Brown Bears communicate using body language, sounds, and marking trees or the ground with their claws and scent.