I once watched a bear on the National Geographic channel. It was standing on its hind legs. This got me wondering – Can black bears walk as humans do?
Yes, bears can walk on 2 legs.
Bears can stand and walk on their hind legs, but they usually walk on all fours. Their broad paws and flat feet cause this distinctive shuffle.
Also, they have longer hind legs than forelegs. This helps them to walk two-legged. Their muscular legs also allow them to walk on 2 legs.
All bears share this trait.
We have seen that bears do walk on two legs but are there any specific reasons for this behavior?
Table of Contents
- Why Do Bears Walk On 2 Legs?
- How Do Bears Walk On 2 Legs?
- How Long Can Bears Walk On 2 Legs?
- Do Bears Prefer To Walk On 2 Legs Or 4 Legs?
- Will Bears Eventually Evolve To Walk On 2 Legs?
- Final Thoughts
Why Do Bears Walk On 2 Legs?
Sometimes, a bear may stand on its hind legs. Even baby bears often stand on their two feet when looking over grass. The only reason is that they want to see everything clearly in front of them.
It is just like when people stand on their toes and peep to get a better glance at something.
Further, bears stand on two legs to hear and smell better.
There is a misconception about their standing or walking on two legs. When preparing to attack someone, they are said to stand on their hind legs. That is untrue.
As was already said, they only stand on their two legs to get a clearer view of their environment. Basically, it’s just a sign of curiosity.
Bears are quadrupedal animals from birth.
Animals that move on all four limbs are known as quadrupeds. Bears also walk or run on all four legs.
Then how do they balance on two legs?
How Do Bears Walk On 2 Legs?
Bears simply push their bodies upward while supporting their weight on their hind legs to stand straight. This is similar to when a human baby first stands on two feet.
Thanks to their long claws, large paws, and strong legs, bears are able to balance their weight on 2 legs.
Bears have massive, well-developed legs with strong muscles. In addition, they have longer hind legs than front legs.
Their claws are strong, long, and sharp. Due to this, they can firmly grab whatever they are holding.
They have broad paws and flat feet as well. The front paws of grizzly bears measure approximately 5 by 7 inches (12.7 x 17.8 cm).
Now you are aware that bears can walk on 2 legs. But how long do you think they can continue to walk like this?
How Long Can Bears Walk On 2 Legs?
Bears usually can only move a short distance on their hind legs. Only the trained ones might walk farther than the wild ones.
However, a bear’s four-legged walk enables it to cover long distances quickly. American black bears can walk quite long distances in short periods of time.
In fact, a male black bear’s home range can reach 300 sq miles (with 4 legs), while a female can reach up to 50 sq miles.
Polar bears are capable of daily distances of up to 20 miles (30 km) of walking.
Brown bears can walk up to 50 miles (80 km) daily. Males may go two to three times as far as their female counterparts.
Most bears are active a half-hour before daybreak. During the day, they take a nap once or twice.
Do Bears Prefer To Walk On 2 Legs Or 4 Legs?
Four legs, without a doubt. Bears naturally walk on all fours.
Their primary mode of moving is running or walking on all fours. They walk on two legs only when necessary.
Their two-legged position allows them to view better and take a powerful position. Bears may also move on their hind legs if their front paws are hurt.
For example, in 2016 a black bear by the name of Pedals was discovered in New Jersey. The bear used to walk upright.
Due to a shorter right front limb and dangling left paw, it later became apparent the bear might be congenital. While some claimed that he was hit by a car.
All bears have the ability to walk on their two feet. But, they just prefer not to.
Will Bears Eventually Evolve To Walk On 2 Legs?
Most likely not. By nature, bears are quadrupedal animals. They move on 2 legs only when they deem it necessary.
It appears when there is an urgent impulse to see, smell, or hear something different. This enables them to avoid predators and other threats.
Bears don’t walk on two legs for looks.
Take the circus bears, as an example. Because they have been trained to do so, they walk on two legs.
We are the only creatures that have evolved to walk on two legs for extended periods of time. But it required significant adjustments to the hip, leg, foot bones, and spine’s position.
A natural process should not be interfered with. The bears are used to walking on four legs. Keeping their spine and bones straight for extended periods of time could harm them.
Also, they live in mountains. Crawling on all fours is always the best option when climbing up or down mountains.
Even humans climb mountains with their hands. Therefore, adaptations to their habitat and diet are necessary for their evolution to walk on two legs.
We are now aware that all bear species can move around on two legs.
However, it is important to remember that bears are born with four legs. So it makes sense that they would walk on four feet.
Bears sometimes have the ability to stand or walk on their hind legs. The purpose is to have a clear view of what is ahead. It also improves their senses of smell and hearing.
We already know that bears have strong, longer hind legs. They can walk or stand on two feet thanks to their wide paws and flat feet.
Don’t forget to snap a photo of the next bear you see in a zoo or circus that is standing straight up. Bears can be aggressive, so keep your distance!