101 Facts About Grizzly Bears


  • Grizzly bears also known as brown bears are predominantly found in North America
  • Some species can also be found in Northern China, Korea, Russia and are called Eurasian brown bears.
  • Adult male grizzly bears can weigh more than 500 kilograms
  • An Adult male grizzly is up to twice the weight of a female grizzly of the same age range
  • Their scientific name is Ursus arctos
  • They are part of the order Carnivora and part of the Ursidae family.
  • They have a concaved or dish-shaped face with very high brows
  • Grizzly bears have short ears, short tails and a rump that is lower than their shoulders. This is one of the features that separate them from black bears.
  • Mature grizzly bears are apex predators in their home range
  • Their home range is situated where there are plenty of rivers, streams and sometimes fruit-bearing trees
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  • The actual weight of grizzly bears fluctuates and depends on the time of the season.
  • Female bears are smaller compared to the male bears (they are just about 60% of an adult male grizzly bear size).
  • Grizzlies have a life span of more than 30 years 
  • Grizzly bears have different coat colours such as dark brown, silvery and light brown coats.
  • Grizzly bears have sharp long claws designed to help them to forage and for digging
  • Grizzly bears are omnivorous animals although berries and nuts make up approximately 80% of their nutrition.
  • They eat insects especially bees, ants, moths, and ladybugs
  • There have been accounts of grizzly bears covering their tracks from hunters 
  • Male grizzly bears eat more meat than female grizzly bears.
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  • Grizzly bear meat consumption comes from small animals and rodents although bears can sometimes bring down big animals if needed
  • Brown bears are considered by the IUCN red list as least concern.
  • There are approximately 55,000 grizzly bears in North America
  • There are about 15,000 grizzly bears in Canada alone
  • The Alaskan province has the highest population of grizzly bears, with a population of 30,000
  • Grizzly bears are good at spotting rodent holes 
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  • Grizzly bears can climb very well as cubs. Once mature, they rarely attempt to climb because of their claws.
  • Grizzly bears have sharp eyesight, and can even see better than humans in some lights
  • They recognize shapes but not too many details 
  • Grizzly bears can walk on their back feet in a manner like humans
  • Grizzly bears have fur on their body but have hairs on their shoulders. Their hair on their backs have white tips which give them grizzled looks
  • A mature grizzly bear’s height is about 3 or 4 feet when on four legs. However, when it stands on its back feet, its  height is about 8 ft 
  • Grizzly bears can be recognized by the hump on its back. The hump is made of muscle. This is one way to distinguish it from a Black bear
  • Most grizzly bears hibernate for about 5 to 8 month every year, usually during winter
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  • Growling, roaring, and snorting are some of the ways grizzly bears communicate
  • When in captivity and not getting their exercise as it usually would, a grizzly bear can weigh up to 1400 pounds.
  • Grizzlies have dens where they stay for the period of their hibernation
  • Grizzly bears can gain more than 150kg by feeding before hibernating
  • Grizzly bears do not eat, urinate or defecate during the entirety of their hibernation period
  • They look around when people or animals are near.  They do this not because they can’t see but because they want to get a strong smell of the animal or person in the air.
  •  The length of a mature grizzly bear’s front claws is about 2 – 4 inches 
  • There are very few predators that can hunt or harm grizzly cubs
  • Mature Grizzly bears have no predators (except human beings)
  • When fighting or defending, grizzlies stand upright on their back to make themselves larger
  • Grizzly bears run extremely fast for short distances 
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  • Adult male grizzly bear usually subjects grizzly cubs to depredation and unless protected by a female grizzly (sow), they can be killed by wolves, cougars, and other predators
  • Grizzly bears only move together or congregate when a significant amount of food is present in a particular location
  • Male brown bears are usually solitary animals. Only the sows move together with their cubs for a period.
  • Grizzly bears are scavengers and can feed on carcasses if necessary.
  • The bears also eat cooked human food as well as garbage. They can also kill humans for food but it is not very common
  • Grizzly cubs stay with their mothers for about 2 to 3 years or 2 to 3 summer seasons
  • Female Grizzly bears do not mate when they are still caring for their cubs
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  • Grizzly cubs feed only on their mother’s milk till the end of winter. When summer begins, they begin to eat small solid foods together while still drinking mil.
  • Grizzly bears do not mark territory that they defend
  • They rest a lot to conserve energy and eat to prepare for hibernation
  • Grizzly bears prefer salmon as their protein source but can also eat meat if they have no access to fish
  • Brown bears do not have multi-chambered stomachs even though they eat plant fibers like ruminants such as cows and elks
  • Grizzlies are very good at catching fish. They enter shallow waters to catch salmons.
  • Grizzlies only allow other bears into their home range when there is plenty of food to go round (salmon spawn season).
  • When they are about to hibernate, brown bears eat more than 25 fish per day. They do this to gain as much fat as possible for the upcoming winter
  • During hibernation, the metabolic process and heart rate of grizzly bears slows down to conserve fat reserves. 
  • A grizzly bear’s heartbeat slows down to 8 beats per minute from its normal 40 bpm during hibernation
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  • Grizzlies can recycle their body wastes during hibernation
  • Even when hibernating, grizzly bears can wake up when they want and even move around at times
  • Some grizzly bears do not hibernate because they live in an area where food is available all year round
  • Grizzly bears always wait for snowfall to camouflage their den from predators before hibernating 
  • Grizzly bears have their mating season from May to July.
  • They are ready for mating once they are about five years of age
  • Male Grizzly bears usually find it difficult to track female grizzles because of the low population of females
  • Brown bears have a gestation period of 180 to 250 days
  • Grizzly bears are one of the few terrestrial mammals in North America with low reproductive rates
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  • Brown bears can breed with other bears such as polar bears and the North American black bears
  • Cross-bred hybrid bears are very rare
  • Female Grizzly bears delay embryo implantation until they are about to hibernate
  • Miscarriages happen in grizzly bears when they do not gain enough weight before hibernation
  • Brown bears give birth to an average of two cubs
  • A sow will attack anything it feels threatens her cub, even grizzly bears and other predators that are bigger than her
  • Cubs are born when the sow is in hibernation in a winter den
  • It takes six weeks after childbirth for a cub to open their eyes
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  • Female Grizzlies live longer than their male counterparts. This is because male bears incur a lot of injuries when fighting
  • A group of grizzly bears is referred to as a sleuth or sloth of bears, possibly because of their hibernation state 
  • Childbirths always occur beteeen January and March every year.
  • Female grizzles urinate behind their back legs while male grizzles urinate in front of their back legs
  • Female Grizzly bears always avoid their cubs once they chase them away after weaning
  • Grizzly bears participate in seasonal breeding fights before mating
  • Grizzly bears occasionally enter black bears territory to raid for food such as nuts and berries, although black bears always stay out of territories owned by grizzly bears
  • Black bears usually run when they see grizzly bears unless the grizzly is a small one
  • Grizzly bears act as seed distributors and carriers for fruit-bearing plants.
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  • Screaming or shouting loudly after suddenly encountering a grizzly bear will only prompt it to attack
  • Female grizzlies defending their cubs are responsible for about 70% of all humans killed by grizzly bears
  • Grizzlies usually avoid human contact and rarely engage with humans unless defending its food source or its cubs
  • Grizzly bears are skilled swimmers
  • Brown bears can run more than 48 km/hr (30 mph)
  • Brown bears have a well-developed sense of smell. Their smell detection is even better than that of hound dogs
  • Captive grizzlies have a life span up to 40 years 
  • Adult grizzlies possess large heavily built skulls
  • Grizzly bears can smell food even if it is more than 5 kilometers away
  • A grizzly bear’s jaw is very powerful and can crush a man’s head. Reports even estimate that a grizzly can crush a bowling ball with its jaws
  • Ursus arctos horibilus also means horrible bear; a reference to their huge and massive size
  • Compared to the coastal brown bears, Alaska Peninsular brown bears are smaller
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  • Grizzly bears leave DNA samples of themselves on trees referred to as “rub trees”. The bears use these trees to scratch their back
  • Brown bears have an impressive memory and never forget where their best food source is

There are some fantastic books on grizzly bears on Amazon. My personal recommendations are these two:

Down from the mountain: The life and death of a grizzly bear – This is a fantastic book about a bear called Millie and her struggles in life. I cannot recommend this book enough. You can buy it here on Amazon.

Grizzly bears : A falcon field guide – Falcon field guides are fantastic guides, and this one is no exception. Although only 96 pages, this packs in a wealth of information on brown bears. If you are on the lookout for grizzly bears, then this guide is a must have. You can buy it here on Amazon.

Bryan Harding

Bryan has spent his whole life around animals. While loving all animals, Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Not only does Bryan share his knowledge and experience with our readers, but he also serves as owner, editor, and publisher of North American Mammals.

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