Brown Bear

Category: Animal Info Pages

Brown bear is a broad term that covers many different species of bear, large and small.  For clarification, this article will be primarily about the grizzly bear (Ursus arctos).


Grizzly bears get their name from the frosted or "grizzled" look of the tips of their hair, which loses color with age.  Their scientific name is derived from the Latin and Greek words meaning "bear"; "ursus" and "arctos", respectively.  The term "grizzly" applies to several species including the Kodiac, Penisular, and the extinct Californian, and Mexican brown bears.  Grizzlies can be found across much of north-eastern Eurasia and North America.  They are characterized by their massive heads, their overall size, and their aggressive nature.  The grizzly bear is the largest North American terrestrial (living on land) carnivore.


Grizzlies are typically solitary, nocturnal animals, but they will change their habits based on availability of food.  The bears are extremely dexterous, and are capable of successfully hunting almost any game in their habitat.  Even though the grizzly is so capable, it prefers easily obtained food sources and will get about 90% of its food in the form of vegetation.  Grizzlies will eat berries, nuts, acorns, pinecones, grasses, and even mushrooms.  Bears also have long blunt claws adapted for digging up roots and shoots.  Almost anything these bears come across is viewed as a potential food source.  The grizzly is known as having one of the most diverse diets of any bear species. 


Grizzlies are HUGE.  Coastal Alaskan grizzlies that feed on fatty food sources like salmon can grow to over 1500 lbs., and stand almost 10 feet tall!  Bears this size tend to have paws roughly 8-15 inches long, bearing 4 inch claws.  With an aggressive demeanor and such intimidating stature, it's no wonder the grizzly was once formally classified as "Ursus horribilis", or "terrifying bear".