The spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus) is probably the only bear species which is native to South America. The South American bear is also called Andean short-faced bear. The Florida spectacled bear which has long become extinct is thought to be the closest cousin of spectacled bear.
Spectacled Bear Facts
Size & Weight: Adult males weigh 220 to 440 pounds while females weigh only 77 – 181 pounds. This shows that females are only half the size of males. The head-body length is measured at 120 to 200 cm. It has the shortest muzzle of all bears—the second shortest is of giant panda.
Description: It has brown shaggy coat which goes black at times. The bear earns its name because of the prominent yellow rings encircling the eyes.
Distribution: Spectacled bears are found in eastern Panama, western Venezuela, Ecuador, northwestern Argentina, western Bolivia, and Peru. They occur throughout the Andes Mountains.
Diet: While polar bear is the most carnivorous, the spectacled bear is the most herbivorous species of all bears. That is to say that only 5% of its diet consists of meat. The spectacled bear eats palm leaves, orchid bulbs, bromeliads, palm nuts, cactus, fallen fruits, frailejon, corn, honey, sugarcane, and bamboo hearts. It also consumes rodents, birds, rabbits, mice, lapwings, arthropods, and carrion.
Habitat: The spectacled bear makes home in a wide variety of habitats at high altitudes. The bear’s habitat includes dry forests, scrub forests, grasslands, and cloud forests. Their habitats are located at 3,300 and 8,900 feet high above the sea level.
Behavior: Like an American black bear, the spectacled bear is also an arboreal species—living most of its life in trees. It can afford to become active any time during day and night possibly because the bear can escape predators by climbing up the trees.
Reproduction: The mating season occurs in April and June. The female produces 1 to 3 cubs after a gestation period of 5 to 8 months. The bear cubs weigh only 300 grams at birth.
Lifespan: The average lifespan of a spectacled bear is about 25 years in the wild.
Cougars are probably the only predators of spectacled bear cubs.