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NATURAL DIET - Editorial Comment

Editorial Comment

(Editorial Overview Text Replicated on Overall Species page - Helarctos malayanus - Sun bear

NATURAL DIET: 

  • Sun bears are omnivorous. Major items in their diets include invertebrates (beetles, beetle larvae, termites, earthworms and others), and fruits, with figs being particularly important outside the main fruiting season. 
  • Additionally, they eat honey, flowers, acorns and other plant material. 
  • Vertebrates (including birds, reptiles and small mammals) are eaten less often. 
  • Food in human garbage may be eaten by some individuals.

QUANTITY EATEN: --

STUDY METHODS: Diets have been studied by observation of bears feeding, by inspection of feeding sites after bears had left, and by examination of scats (faeces).

(References are available in detailed literature reports below)

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Natural Diet

Source Information

SUMMARY:
  • Sun bears are omnivorous. Major items in their diets include invertebrates (beetles, beetle larvae, termites, earthworms and others), and fruits, with figs being particularly important outside the main fruiting season. 
  • Additionally, they eat honey, flowers, acorns and other plant material. 
  • Vertebrates (including birds, reptiles and small mammals) are eaten less often. 
  • Food in human garbage may be eaten by some individuals.

General:

  • Bears are omnivorous. The diet of bears varies with the seas as different plants flower and fruit. (B392.8.w8)
  • Fruits, berries and sprouts, also insects, eggs and small vertebrates. (B144)
  • Omnivorous. (B147) The diet includes honey, insects and insect larvae (including termites), jungle fowl, small rodents and fruit juices. (B147)
  • Largely frugivorous, supplemented with insects. (B285.w4)
  • Omnivorous - fruits, small vertebrates, honey, bee larvae. (D246)
  • The diet includes honey and wild bee grubs, termites, fruits, other vegetable matter, also probably small vertebrates if caught. (B423)
  • Diet includes honey, and leaves from coconut palms (sucking the juices). (B426.8.w8)
  • Invertebrates such as termites, bees and earthworms, coconut palm hearts, also fruits and buds, small vertebrates and carrion. (B424)
  • The sun bear feeds on fruits, honey and small vertebrates; they may scavenge tiger kills. (B399.5.w5)
  • A study of sun bears in lowland tropical rainforest in Borneo found that the bears were omnivorous. Invertebrates (beetles, beetle larvae, termites, bees, wasps, forest cockroaches and other arthropods) were commonly eaten (found in 57% of scat samples). After beetles (found in 63% of samples), the next most important food was figs (found in 61%), while other fruits were less important (29%); flowers, acorns and unidentified plant materials were also eaten. Vertebrates were eaten less commonly but included tortoise, other reptiles, pheasants, other birds, bird eggs and fish. About 7% of samples showed evidence that the bear was making use of human-associated food resources (a garbage dump). It was noted that the proportion of fruits in the diet was lower than expected, but this was probably due to the lack of a normal fruiting season during the study period. (J345.13.w2)
  • Sun bears are omnivorous. Beetles, beetle larvae and termites were found in 57% of scat samples from sun bears in Sabah, Borneo. Outside the main fruiting season, the most commonly eaten fruits were Ficus spp. At least four other known fruits and at least 14 unidentifed fruits were eaten. As well as 13 genera of termites, (Isoptera) and eight families of beetles (Coleoptera), other animal food eaten included one stingless bee genus (Apidae), two ant genera (Formicidae), one wasp genus (Vespidae), three other insect orders, two other classes of arthropods, and small amounts of reptiles, birds and small mammals. Earthworms were also thought to be important, commonly being found at sun bear feeding sites, although due to their body structure, remains were not found in scats. (Th9.II.w2)
  • Fruits are important seasonally. A study in Central Borneo, September to May, found sun bears to be eating three fruit species, Erycibe maingayi, Ficus consociata and Canarium pilosum. It was noted that fruit remained as part of the diet outside the main fruiting season, with for example Ficus eaten in August and Erycibe maingayi probably eaten in January. (J365.15.w1)
  • Omnivorous, fruits to carcasses. (B448)
  • Omnivorous, including figs and termites Prohaniteres mirabilis. (J178.100.w1)

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Quantity Eaten

Source Information

SUMMARY: --
  • --

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Dietary Study Methods

Source Information

SUMMARY: Diets have been studied by observation of bears feeding, by inspection of feeding sites after bears had left, and by examination of scats (faeces).
  • Examination of the contents of bear scats. (J345.13.w2)
  • Diets were determined by observation of bears feeding, by inspection of feeding sites after bears had left, and by examination of scats (faeces).  (Th9.II.w2)

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Authors & Referees

Authors

Dr Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)

Referee

Dave M. Augeri, Ph.D. (V.w97), Ellen Dierenfeld (V.w16)

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