Creature Feature

Creature Feature – New Life in the Bleak Midwinter

Posted by  //  January 22, 2023  //  Articles, Creature Feature

From the last half of January into early February, black bears will be giving birth to their cubs.  It’s hard to reconcile how an animal as large as a black bear begins its life around the size of a chipmunk, weighing in at roughly one-half pound.  In addition to being tiny, newborn cubs are helpless, blind and mostly hairless.  For the next few months, they are completely reliant on their mother for food, warmth and protection.  

Many hibernation dens are exposed to cold air, such as those located under fallen trees or dug into earthen banks.  Here, the mother bear acts like a furnace, snuggling with her babies and warming them with her breath.  While they don’t hibernate, the cubs do take plenty of naps.  When they snooze, Mama will, too; but contrary to popular belief, she is awake and alert when her cubs cry or require care.  

Her milk contains 33 percent fat, so the cubs grow quickly.  By the time they leave the den in springtime, they will weigh 10 to 15 pounds and be about the size of a volleyball.  Sadly, only half of all cubs will survive the first 6 months.  Their future hinges heavily upon that of their mother’s survival from various threats including spring bear hunts and collisions with automobiles.

Article by Margie Manthey
Photo: Wikipedia

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