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What Do Bears Eat?

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Bears are not the cute and cuddly creatures you see in stuffed animals or on children’s shows.  These gigantic animals can be tamed for zoos and some can even be taught to perform in circuses but in their natural habitat, they are quite ferocious.

Bears are mostly carnivore mammals that belong to the Ursidae family. There are only 8 species of bears but they are found in various countries throughout the world.  Bears are known for their large stature and furry bodies but the diet of different bear species can vary quite a lot.

What Do Bears Eat?

Some species, like the Giant Panda, are herbivorous and feed only on bamboo.  Other species, like polar bears, are carnivorous and eat only animal matter.

The other six species of bear are all omnivorous and feed on a variety of foods which include both plant and animal matter.

Here is a quick look at some of the most common foods that bears love to eat.


Not all bear species eat bamboo.  It is only the Giant panda that consumes this type of plant.  Giant pandas are herbivores and they consume mostly bamboo and a little bit of other vegetation.  They may occasionally feed on small animals but mainly focus on bamboo as a primary food source.


Six of the eight bear species need to consume various plants to stay healthy.  Species lie brown and black bears are opportunistic and will feed on all sorts of plants they find.

Bears can eat the leaves, roots, and fruits of certain plants.  They mainly focus on soft plants such as fresh new sprouts and young leaves.  They also love to browse around and forage for berries.  In autumn, these animals may even seek out fermented fruits which can alter their behavior.

Bears will also feed on plants such as acorns, mushrooms, fungi, and various other types to stay nourished.


All bear species will occasionally consume insects.  Some species like the brown or black bear love to eat a variety of insect types.  They thrive on the protein that this food source has to offer.

Bears enjoy eating all sorts of insects such as ants, termites, bees, wasps, cutworm moths, and a great many other insect species.  They love to eat insects because this food source consists of 80 – 90 percent protein.


Bears also love to catch and eat fish.  Fish is a very important food source for bear species like the brown bear and polar bear.

The type of fish bears eat depends on their habitat.  Brown bears on the Kodiak Islands feed mostly on salmon for six months of the year while polar bears mostly focus on fish species that dwell in the arctic regions.

Bears are opportunistic and will catch and eat any type of fish species they can lay their claws on.


Bears are quite large and surprisingly fast.  They are also very strong.  Their strength allows them to catch and eat a variety of animal types including some bigger animals.

Polar bears eat all sorts of high-fat animals such as bearded seals, ribbon seals, geese, arctic rabbits, and many other animals they can find in these chilly regions.

Other bear species will hunt for any animal they can find such as deer, moose, birds, cows, beavers, and many other small mammals such as rodents.


Bears will also feed on carrion meat if they cannot find animals to hunt or cannot make a kill.  They will feed on just about any type of carrion meats they can find.  Typically, they avoid foods that are too old but they sure do love to claim fresh carrion meat from other predators.


Brown and black bears also eat honey.  They will dig out hives or climb to great heights to reach honey.  While eating honey, they will also consume bees and bee larvae.

Dog food

In zoos, bears are often fed on dog food.  Dog food contains lots of vitamins, minerals, and protein. This is good food for domesticated or trained bears because they share a very similar diet to dogs.

Diet Variations

Bears can eat all sorts of strange things if they are hungry.  They might attack humans or they can even grow cannibalistic and will feed on other bears.  Bears can also grow accustomed to human foods and can be quite fond of sweet food such as chocolate.

How to Feed Bears?

Bears are very dangerous.  It is very important not to feed wild bears.  They are clever animals and might start to visit our home often in search of food.  They can also become quite aggressive around food.

Animal conservations and in captivity, bears are offered food once a day by placing the food in their cage.  Tame bears can however sometimes be fed by hand but this is always dangerous.

How Much Do Bears Eat?

Bears have quite a healthy appetite when they are not hibernating.  They are especially hungry during fall because they need to store fat for the long winter.

An adult brown bear will eat up to 90 pounds of food per day.  Panda bears can consume up to 84 pounds of bamboo per day.  An average polar bear can consume up to 100 pounds of blubber in a single sitting.

How Often Do Bears Eat?

During most seasons, bears will try to feed every day.  They might not hunt prey every day but they will feed on other foods such as plant matter if they cannot find prey to hunt.

During winter, their metabolism slows down. They hibernate through the cold winter and will eat very little food if any at all during this stage.

Do Bears Eat Honey?

Yes, bears love honey and they are attracted to beehives because they also enjoy eating bees and the larvae inside of the hives.

Do Bears Eat Humans?

Bears can be very dangerous.  It is very important to maintain your distance if you see a bear in the wild.  Man-eating bear attacks are quite uncommon but they have occurred.  A bear will usually only attack humans if their natural foods are scarce.

What Are the Predators of Bears?

These large animals don’t have too many predators. Humans are the biggest threat to bear populations.  They may also fight each other and older bears may kill and eat young cubs.  Bear cubs are also vulnerable to other animals such as bobcats, coyotes, cougars, gray wolves and various others.

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