Are Black Bears Omnivores? (7 Types of Food They Eat)

The different feeding habits of black bears may make you wonder whether they are omnivores.

Here’s what I found out –

Black bears are omnivores since their diet consists of berries, insects, and small mammals. In fact, omnivores feed on both plants and animals. 

Including insects and berries in the diet directly means that the black bear is omnivorous.

Black bears usually feed on plants or animals, depending on the season. In this article, I will discuss the plants and mammals that black bears feed on.

Table of Contents

Seven Types of Food Black Bears Eat

There are 7 main types of foods that black bears eat. These foods include:

  1. Plants
  2. Mammals
  3. Insects
  4. Fruits and berries
  5. Fish
  6. Birds and eggs
  7. Amphibians and reptiles


More than 80% of the black bears’ diet consists of greens. The most common types of vegetation that black bears feed on are:

  • Lillies
  • Fireweed
  • Alfalfa
  • Dandelions
  • Clover

Unlike most other animals, black bears have a longer digestive tract. This digestive tract plays a huge role in absorbing nutrients from plants.

Black bears only feed on the above plants when they are tender and nutritious.

Black bears love to feed on plants that have broad leaves. Broad leaves usually mean that the plant is soft. Digestion becomes easy when the plant is smooth, where the clovers and dandelions come in.

The softness of the dandelions and clovers always attracts black bears. Some roots and flowers also attract this kind of bear at some points.

Black bear eating clover

Despite having the urge to feed on roots, black bears do not like digging for roots. Lack of interest in searching for roots takes them to the available flowers.


Being carnivorous as well, black bears usually feed on different animals. The most common animals that black bears feed on are:

  • Deer
  • Young caribou
  • Moose
  • Elk
  • Beavers
  • Bobcats
  • Wolves
  • Voles
  • Red foxes
  • Mice
  • Ground squirrels
  • Coyotes

Besides the small animals above, black bears also feed on larger ones. This kind of bear has the power to take down even huge prey and convert them to food. 

Larger animals usually have more protein than smaller ones. The search for high protein makes the black bears go to the extent of hunting large animals.

In some cases, black bears usually wait for other animals to hunt down large animals and then fully take over.

Black bears also feed on leftovers of prey in other scenarios. Occasionally, animals may die from natural disasters such as long winters. The black bear takes the opportunity of long winter to feed on weakened animals.


Fruits and Berries

Fruits and berries play an important part in complementing a general bear’s diet. The black bears also fall among the bracket since they feed on berries and fruits.

The most common fruit that black bears feed on include:

  • Plums
  • Rose hips
  • Raspberries
  • Elderberries
  • Huckleberries
  • Cherries
  • Apples
  • Blackberries

A single black bear can feed on up to 30,000 fruits every year. The total figure for these fruits may also increase in some situations.


Black bears also feed on nuts at certain times. In most cases, black bears usually take these nuts from different places. The most common areas where black bears get the nuts include deciduous and evergreen trees.

Did you know?

The most favorite type of nut for black bears is the hazelnut. Several black bears may take on very long distances just to get a grasp of some hazelnuts.

The black bear doesn’t have a problem with nuts on trees. Most black bears can climb onto trees. The climbing capability is a plus when it comes to searching for nuts.


Most black bears, including the American ones, usually feed on insects. The insects typically act as a major supplement for the black bears’ diet.

This kind of bear eats several types of insects and warms as well. The most common insects and worms that black bears feed on include:

  • Earthworms
  • Moths
  • Caterpillars
  • Grasshoppers
  • Beetle larvae
  • Grubs
  • Ants

The sticky tongue of black bears helps a lot when capturing insects and worms.

Black bears love to feed on ants while still in the larval stage. These ants and other insects have a high protein content. The level of protein proves to play an important role in the black bears’ diet.


Most black bears also feed on different kinds of fish. The most common types of fish that black bears eat include:

  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Catfish
  • Carp

Birds and Eggs

Ducks, grouse, and geese are the most common birds that black bears love to eat. These bears will also feed on the eggs once they attack the birds’ habitat.

Black bears can climb trees, so finding eggs from bird nests is quite an easy task.

Reptiles and Amphibians

Some black bears are more courageous, meaning they would go further to even feed on dangerous reptiles. The alligator is the most common reptile that black bears attack. The black bears mostly feed on young alligators and their eggs.

What is the Most Favorite Food for Black Bears

Besides eating different foods, black bears have a favorite type of food. These bears mostly love feeding on green foods. Black bears love to feed on plants more than any other type of food.

Plants are readily available and quite easy to get, unlike hunting animals. For that reason, greens take the crown as black bears’ favorite food.

How Much Food can Black Bears Eat Per Day?

A black bear weighs around 250 pounds (113 kilograms) to 550 pounds (249.4 kilograms).

This type of bear feeds on around 15% to 20% of its weight daily. A black bear weighing 500 pounds (226 kilograms) would feed on 75 pounds (34 kilograms) to 110 pounds (49 kilograms) of food daily.

The total amount that the black bear feeds on daily may also change. The year’s seasons determine the daily food intake per black bear.

The Black Bear Diet

The main part of a black bear’s diet consists of green things. The greens are the plants available in these bears’ natural habitat.

Different berries, roots, and nuts balance the black bear’s diet.

Insects, mammals, and fish also cover a certain percentage of the bear’s diet. The combination of these foods makes a complete black bear’s diet.

Do Black Bears Have Different Diets in Different Seasons?

Yes, black bears always change their diet with the season. The change of diet is a form of adaptation to every current season. For example, during summer and spring, the diet of these bears consists of insects and plants.

Nuts and fruits take over during fall. Meat comes later during winter since there is not much growing around.

Do black bears eat pigs?

Black bears eat pigs whenever possible. Pigs are mammals, and black bears eat mammals.

Do black bears eat cats?

Yes, black bears may eat cats but this happens very rarely. Black bears don’t go out hunting for cats, they would only feed on the cat if they accidentally cross paths.

Do black bears eat snakes?

Black bears eat snakes only when they are desperate for food. In most cases, black bears always avoid snakes.

Do black bears eat dogs?

Black bears can eat dogs but in most cases they always avoid them. These bears do not like confronting dogs since dogs make loud noises.

Final Thoughts

Black bears are omnivores and can feed on practically any plant or animal.

Different plants, fish, birds, fruits, and mammals complete this bear’s diet.

However, the most favorable food includes different types of greens. The mammals and insects just come in to make the diet complete.

Feeding the black bear also goes with the season. There are seasons when some foods are unavailable while others are in surplus.

You may also find out more about the black bear teeth