The Story Of The Bear:
Story Of The Bear
American Black Bear.
Ugly Sloth Bear
Himalayan Black Bear
A Funny Little Bear
A Bear That Wears Spectacles
Ugly Sloth Bear
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
The ugliest of all the bear tribe is the sloth bear of India. It is covered with very long and coarse fur, which attains its greatest length on the, shoulders. With the exception of the end of the muzzle being dirty grey, and of the white chevron on the chest, the color of the fur is black, but the long claws are white. The claws are also unusually large and powerful, and the snout and lower lip are much elongated and very mobile. These bears are from 4 feet to 5 feet 8 inches in the length of the head and body, the tail generally measuring from 4 to 5 inches, exclusive of the hair. Large males weigh as much as 280 pounds,
Their summer homes are in caves in the rocks; in the winter they pass the day in the grass or bushes, or in the holes in the banks of ravines. At night they roam in search of food, which consists almost entirely of fruits, flowers, and insects, together with honey. In addition. to beetles, young bees and honey the sloth bear is very fond of white ants. The power of suction in this bear as well as expelling wind from its mouth are very great.
On arriving at an ant hill, the bear scrapes away with the fore-feet until he reaches the large combs at the bottom of the galleries. He then with violent puffs dissipates the dust and crumbled particles of the nest, and sucks out the inhabitants of the comb by such forcible inhalations as to be heard at two hundred yards' distance or more. Large larvae are in this way sucked out from great depths under the soil. They occasionally rob birds' nests and devour the eggs. The sucking of the paw, accompanied by a drumming noise when at rest, and especially after meals, is common to all bears, and during the heat of the day they may often be heard humming and puffing far down in caverns and fissures of rocks.
Like the fox-bats and the palm-civets, the sloth bear often visits the vessels hung on the palm trees for the sake of their juice, and is said frequently to become very drunk in consequence. Sugar-cane is likewise a favorite dainty of these bears, which frequently do a large amount of damage to such crops. Although they generally subsist entirely on vegetable substances and insects, they will occasionally eat flesh.
Like most other members of the family, the sloth bear has the sense of hearing but poorly developed, and its eyesight is also far from good; hence it has a peculiarly comical way of peering about when it suspects intruders, as though it were short-sighted. It can be approached very closely from the leeward side. Its sense of smell is wonderfully acute, and it can detect concealed supplies of honey, and also scent out ants' nests when situated far below the ground.
The number of cubs produced at a birth is, as in most bears, usually two, but there may sometimes be three: The young cubs are carried on the back of the female when the animals are on the move; and it is an amusing sight to watch the cubs dismount at the feeding grounds, and scramble back to their seat at the first alarm. The cubs are carried about in this manner till they are several months old and have attained the dimensions of a sheep-dog, and when there is room for only one cub on the mother's back the other has to walk by her side.
Either wild or tame they are very amusing. Though hard to kill, they are very soft as to their feelings, and make the most hideous outcries when shot at not only the wounded animal, but also its companions.
Although generally timid in their nature, sloth bears will on rare occasions attack human beings without provocation, and when they do so they fight both with teeth and talons, and inflict terrible wounds, more especially on the head and face. These attacks generally occur when a bear is accidentally stumbled upon by a native Wandering in the jungle, and are then due more to timidity than to ferocity.
Sloth bears are usually hunted in India either by driving them from cover with a line of beaters, or by the sportsman going to their caves or lairs, among the rocks at daybreak, and shooting them as they return home from their nightly wanderings.