What Do Black Bears Eat

What Do Black Bears Eat?

Have you ever wondered What Do Black Bears Eat? Black bears are usually found in the mountains and forests of North America. They can also be found in Canada and Mexico. Among North American bears, they are considered the smallest species of bears.

These smaller species have the largest population size in North America and Mexico.

Black bears are called black bears because black and brown colouring is more prominent. Besides having black bears, Black bears are excellent tree climbers, and they use their claws to reach on heights of mountains and trees.

They use this skill to escape from predators and run after prey.

What do Black Bears Eat?

The black bear has a different type of diet. They are considered opportunistic eaters. They can feed whatever they find or whatever is present. Black bears are omnivores, and they can eat both plants and animals.

They rarely eat animals, and almost 95% of their diet is plant-based.

They mostly choose their diet according to the seasons. Here is the food list in detail which black bears like to eat.

1. Mammals


Black bears are carnivores most of the year, and they like to eat caribou, deer, elk, and moose. Black bears have very sharp minds, and they remember the places where deer or elk give birth to their young ones.

Bears when traveling can come across the young ones. The result can be significant if we look at countries’ statistics in which we calculate the number of young ones eaten by black bears.

Black bears also like to eat other mammals such as mice or caribou, but they prefer this type of food when ill or injured. When they hibernate, they try to eat things near them, such as insects and mice.

They will eat anything to survive in winters.

2. Plants


Black bears also support their life with plant-based food. They consume more plant-based diets than animal-based diets. During average weather, bears like to roam, find their favourite plants, and eat them.

The stomach of bears has only a one-chambered stomach, and it doesn’t work properly when breaking down the plant-based diet. They have a very strong digestive tract to digest the animal-based diet.

These long tracts also help to take extra nutrients from the plants. When black bear eats plants for a long time, they remain healthy and active.

Plants like clover and dandelions are suitable for bears because they are soft and don’t cause any digestive issues. Bears don’t like to dig out the roots and flowers to save energy, but they prefer to eat them over other plants when they find some roots.

3. Berries and Fruits

Berries and Fruits

Black bears also like to eat berries and fruits, and these food items are also crucial for their health. Fruits that bear eats are apples, blackberries, plums, rosehips, cherries, and raspberries.

Blackberries and raspberries become ripe first than other fruit, so bears eat them before moving to other fruits and berries.

Black bears are famous for destroying the crops of berries because they eat berries too fast. If we talk about various nuts, bears like to eat them. Bears will remove the nuts from trees and then eat them. One of the favorite nuts that black bears prefer to eat is the Hazelnut.

Bears sometimes travel a long distance to reach the trees where the nut is ready for them to eat. Black bears can climb trees and high places, which gives them an advantage over other animals.

4. Insects


Black bears also like to feed on insects when they have no other food source. They eat an extensive range of insects and worms, including ants, grasshoppers, moths, caterpillars, larvae, and earthworms.

They have a sticky tongue which helps them easily catch these insects. 

Ants are an excellent protein source for black bears. When there are no berries or fruits for black bears, they prefer to eat ants in significant quantities. They can eat ants with larval stages and young in pupal.

Besides ants, they will also like to eat bees and wasps. In many movies and cartoons, you have watched bears like to eat honey, which is correct. They try to raid the beehives for bees and honey, both with the larvae.

5. Eggs and Birds

Eggs and Birds

Black bears eat a lot of different things, including eggs and birds. They eat birds such as ducks, grouse or geese, etc. Black bears can also feed on birds because they are speedy climbing trees.

They find birds nesting on trees and eating newly hatched birds or eggs. They don’t usually hunt to find birds’ eggs, but they will try to look and eat eggs if they come across a nest.

6. Amphibians and Reptiles

Amphibians and Reptiles

In America, such as Florida and Louisiana, Bears feed on reptiles. It may sound weird to you, but they will only eat the young and unhatched eggs of the Alligator because they want to get injured by the adult one.

Besides, black bears can also eat some amphibians, such as frogs, making up only a tiny portion of their diet.

7. Fish


Black bears will also feed on different types of fish. The kind of fish they like varies from geographical location. Black bear who lives in the pacific likes to eat salmon to fulfil the protein requirements in their diet. Other fish they usually eat are trout, carp, catfish.

Do Polar Bear Feed According to Seasons?

Black bears prefer to eat other animals during winters, such as bobcats, squirrels, coyotes, mice, red foxes, wolves, etc. American black bears can also feed on carrion left by the other animals.

Black bears might dig mammals such as gophers during springs by digging and eating them. Large mammals who live inside caves or holes can also become the food of black bears.

During summers, bears like to eat flowers such as lilies or fireweed to fulfil their nutrition needs. Plants are the essential parts of a bear’s diet when they wake up from hibernation.

How do Black Bears Hunt?

Black Bears Hunt

The black bear has a very strong forepaw which helps them kill their prey. Some male adult bears have such a strong forepaw that they can easily break the spine of another animal.

They bite their prey in the neck, which proves to be fatal. They have sharp teeth, and their one attack on prey can kill them.

Bears also like to hunt animals with a big nose, and they can aim at the nose and injure the animal, which gives them a chance to hunt them. Bears first eat the chest region before moving onto the other body parts.

Black bears also feed on carcasses, and they can also store them to eat them later. They bury their victims or carcasses in the ground so that no other animals notice that. They cover the ground with soil and moss to look like natural ground.

Read Also: Black-bear size, Habitat, Diet and Interesting Facts.

Wrapping Up:

The eating habits of black bears depend upon the seasons, but they like to eat both animals and plants.

Article Research: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/237503677_Black_Bear_Seasonal_Food_Habits_and_Distribution_by_Elevation_in_Banff_National_Park_Alberta

(PDF) Hibernation in Black Bears: Independence of Metabolic Suppression from Body Temperature (researchgate.net)

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