Black Bear Cubs Sampling Solid Food But Continue to Nurse For The Next Year
Black Bears only mate every two years, due to the fact that their cubs are not weaned until they are a year and a half old. When born in January, a cub weighs less than a pound and is roughly 9” long. For the next three months it nurses steadily on its mother’s very rich milk (20-25% fat compared to a human’s 3-5%). Depending on the number of siblings a cub has as well as the amount of milk its mother produces, it weighs between four and six pounds when it emerges from its den in April.
Soon thereafter the cub starts sampling the food that its mother eats, but swallows very little. Slowly it begins to eat and digest solid food (cubs are partial to ant brood when very young), but it will still be nursing for the next year, right up until next April or May, when it is weaned by its mother who will then turn her attention to finding a mate.
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