Skip to main content - The Animal Encyclopedia for Kids


Brown Bear

Brown Bear Facts

Size 40-110 in (100-280 cm) (body); 7.8 ft (2.4 m) (standing)
Speed 31-34 mph (50-55 km/h)
Weight 264-308 lb (120-140 kg)
Lifespan 20-30 years
Food Grass, herbs, roots, berries, salmon, lemmings, birds, rodents
Predators Fleas, ticks, worms
Habitat North America, Europe, Russia, Asia
Order Carnivore
Family Bears
Scientific name Ursus arctos
Characteristics Long claws

Main Characteristics

Brown bears are predators. They primarily live in North America, Europe, Russia and Asia, and prefer semi-open landscapes such as tundras, prairies, coasts and mountains. Solitary animals, brown bears are active at twilight and night.

Brown Bear Photo: Jamen Percy/Shutterstock

Bear Family

There are 12 different subspecies of brown bear. The most well-known brown bear is the north American grizzly bear. It’s stronger and heavier than the European brown bear. The Kodiak bear (also a brown bear) and the polar bear are the largest and heaviest bears in the world.


Brown Bear Species

There are eight species: American black bears, collar bears, brown bears, polar bears, sloth bears, sun bears, spectacled bears, and giant pandas. Despite their names, red panda bears and koala bears aren’t actually bears.

Brown Bear Photo: Erik Mandre/Shutterstock


Brown bears may be predators but their diets aren’t full of meat. In actual fact, they mostly eat grasses, plants, roots, nuts, mushrooms and berries. They also hunt small insects, birds, small rodents and sick, weak or young moose, reindeer, deer and bucks. They only eat salmon in coastal regions.


Are They Dangerous?

Bears are calm, gentle and social animals, but brown bears - and especially grizzly bears - are prone to attack, especially if a mother bear has cubs. Bears actually prefer to stay out of humans’ way. But their habitat is becoming smaller and smaller as houses and roads are being built, meaning that bears accidently happen upon humans while searching for food.

Do They Hibernate?

Before the icy cold winter months, bears gain 2 lb (1 kg) of body weight a day. This means they have enough reserves to rely on while they sleep, so they don’t need to find food in the snow. With plenty of time, they withdraw to a cozy hide-away padded with plants. During hibernation, they make use of their “extra padding”, losing 20-40% of their body weight.


Brown Bear Photo: Giedriius/Shutterstock

Enemies and Threats

Are They Endangered?

The European brown bear and grizzly bear are not endangered. Some brown bears have already died out, e.g. the Atlas bear, Californian and Mexican brown bears. The Himalayan brown bear is endangered.

Senses and Abilities

Sense of Smell and Hearing

The brown bear’s sense of smell is 100 times better than a human’s. They can hear very well.


Brown bears have good memories (they remember where food can be found) and can even count - like primates!

Kodiak Bear Kodiak Bear - Photo: Warren Metcalf/Shutterstock

Importance for the Ecosystem

Brown bears eat fruit and nuts that are excreted along with their feces. This way, they spread seeds all around the place, planting new plants and trees. Bears also keep nature in balance as they get rid of sick, weak and young animals and pick the bodies of dead animals clean.

The Brown Bear Is Related To:

Animals in the Same Biome:

Predator Species Fact Sheets


Most Read Mammal Fact Sheets

Recommended Fact Sheets

See all topics on