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Black Bears Giving Birth

It’s hard to imagine at this time of year, but sometime between the last half of January (the full moon in January is often called the ‘bear moon’) and the first part of February Black Bears give birth to between one and five (usually two) tiny, blind, almost hairless, 9-inch long, one-half pound cubs, each about the size of a chipmunk. The cubs are totally dependent on their mother for food and warmth.

Most dens are exposed to the cold air, as they are located under fallen logs and brush, or are dug into a bank. Occasionally they are on the ground with little or no cover; in all of these locations, the mother acts like a furnace, enveloping her young and breathing on them to keep them warm. The cubs do not hibernate, but nap frequently. Like human mothers, Black Bear mothers sleep when their young sleep, and are alert when their cubs cry and let them know that they are in need of attention. (Photo: taken in March of two-month old Black Bear cubs)

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3 responses

  1. Alice

    Snuggle time with Mom. Her milk must be very nourishing, for her cubs to grow so quickly. Soon, out & about and the learning (& mischief) starts.

    January 17, 2022 at 7:58 am

  2. I think it is amazing that she stores enough fat calories to keep herself nourished for the months that she is inactive and food is unavailable, but also nourishes up to five cubs. She must put on a thick layer of fat to do that. And be mighty hungry when spring comes!

    January 17, 2022 at 8:14 am

    • Yes, indeed, Kathie. I believe I’ve read that they can actually double their weight prior to denning.!

      January 17, 2022 at 12:00 pm

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