Sun Bear

Scientific Name

Helarctos malayanus



IUCN Redlist Status



Sun bears are located in southeast Asia in countries including Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia and the islands of Borneo, Sumatra and Java. Their range can extend further into southern China and far eastern India.


They live in the tropical rainforests of southeast Asia, and are arboreal, which means they spend much of their time in the trees.


Sun bears are omnivorous, meaning they eat both meat and plants. They eat a variety of fruit, insects, such as termites or bee larvae, lizards and other small creatures. Their long tongues and sharp claws make them adept at reaching into termite mounds or bee hives to locate food.


Sun bears are small by bear standards. They grow to be approximately 4 feet in height and weigh about 100 pounds.


Sun bears have short, black fur which covers most of their bodies, except for their muzzles and a unique yellow "u" shape on their chests. This yellow "u" shape is where the name "Sun bear" is derived from. Sun bears have long, curved claws which aid them in climbing trees and tear away bark or dirt to reach honey, larvae and termites.


Sun bears are well-suited to their environment. Their short hair allows them to survive in a hotter environment. Their claws assist them in a variety of ways, including eating, climbing and self-defense.

Other Facts

As with many of the rainforest animals, sun bears are endangered mostly due to habitat loss.

Local farmers may view them as pests as the bears will eat their crops from time to time. The farmers may kill the bears in order to protect their crops.

Sun bears are timid and generally stay away from human settlements.