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< > NATURAL DIET with literature reports for the Spectacled bear - Tremarctos ornatus: Use sub-contents list below, or simply scroll down the page to view findings.

NATURAL DIET - Editorial Comment

Editorial Comment

(Editorial Overview Text Replicated on Overall Species page - Tremarctos ornatus - Spectacled bear

NATURAL DIET: 

  • Spectacled bears eat mainly vegetable matter. When fruits are not available, the succulent hearts of bromeliads are extremely important. Various fruits are eaten, including the fruits of cacti, trees, and shrub berries. The pulp of cacti are also eaten, as are palm frond petioles and corn. Less frequent items in the diet include bulbs of Orchidaceae, bamboo, Amaryllidaceae and the wood of pasillo trees (Bombax discolor).
  • Non-plant items make up a much smaller percentage of the diet and include caterpillars, beetles, bees, honeycomb, rodents, and larger mammals (deer, cattle, goats).

QUANTITY EATEN:--

STUDY METHODS: Scat analysis and signs let by bears while feeding are the main methods used, together with finding of food items in bear nests and reports from local inhabitants.

Further information on feeding behaviour is provided in Spectacled bear Tremarctos ornatus - Feeding Behaviour (Literature Reports)

(References are available in detailed literature reports below)

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Natural Diet

Source Information

SUMMARY:
  • Spectacled bears eat mainly vegetable matter. When fruits are not available, the succulent hearts of bromeliads are extremely important. Various fruits are eaten, including the fruits of cacti, trees, and shrub berries. The pulp of cacti are also eaten, as are palm frond petioles and corn. Less frequent items in the diet include bulbs of Orchidaceae, bamboo, Amaryllidaceae and the wood of pasillo trees (Bombax discolor).
  • Non-plant items make up a much smaller percentage of the diet and include caterpillars, beetles, bees, honeycomb, rodents, and larger mammals (deer, cattle, goats).

General:

  • Bears are omnivorous. The diet of bears varies with the seas as different plants flower and fruit. (B392.8.w8)
  • This bear eats fruit, also bromeliads (Bromeliaceae), fruits of cacti, young palms, trees, bamboo hearts, corn, insects and rodents. Most (about 96%) of the diet is vegetable matter. (B147)
  • The spectacled bear is thought to be mainly vegetarian. (B399.5.w5)
  • Fruits, berries, nuts, seeds and sprouts, also small animals and sometimes hoofed mammals. (B144)
  • The diet is mainly plant material including fruit, palm petioles, cactuses, bamboo and bromeliads. Bromeliads are important in the diet in many areas particularly during times when no fruits are available. (B285.w4)
  • The diet varies with the habitat. (B285.w4)
  • They eat corn in the fields. (B285.w4)
  • These bears scavenge carcasses and may perhaps kill and eat free-roaming cattle. (B285.w4)
  • In Peru, the diet included bromeliad (Bromeliaceae) hearts, fruit and pulp of cacti (Cactaceae), fruits of various tees, the wood (cortex) of the pasillo tree Bombax discolor, petioles of palm fronds (Ceroxylon sp.), berries of shrubs, orchid (Orchidaceae) bulbs, corn (Zea mays) and occasionally other crops, insects, honey bee hives, rodents, Odocoileus virginianus - White-tailed deer, cows and goats. Fruits were seasonal, most being available after the winter rains of November to March. Non-plant items made up only 4.1% of the total volume of scats. (J332.61.w1)
  • Spectacles bears feed on cattle carcasses; they may or may not have killed the cattle. (J345.13.w3)
  • Studies in Venezuela indicate a wide variety of food items, with 40% of scat volume consisting of fruits and 60% of epiphytic bromeliads, bamboo and palm frond petioles. About 45% of scats contained mainly or wholly bromeliads and about 20% contained only Ficus sp.; Puya spp. could be important for short-term intensive feeding. It was reported that both sheep and cattle were eaten; there was evidence of feeding on cattle. (P77.1.w1)
  • Palms, fruit trees, bromeliads and other epiphytic plants are important in the diet. (P77.1.w2)
  • In Ecuador, bromeliads (Puya sp.) were noted to be an important food in paramo areas. (P77.1.w6)
  • A study of the Antisana volcano, Ecuador, found that bears in the subalpine paramo ate Puya (Bromeliaceae) as a major food item, found in all of 49 droppings examined and forming more than 80% of each scat. Various other plants (15 species) were eaten also. Animal remains were found in fewer droppings, but included rabbit (Sylvilagus brasiliensis) (Leporidae - Rabbits and Hares (Family)), mice (Thomasomys sp.) (Muridae - Rats, mice, voles, gerbils etc. (Family)), domestic calves and birds. (J451.23.w1)
  • Spectacled bears eat fruits also the bases of the leaf petioles of bromeliads and palms, frailejon (Espeletia spp.), the pseudobulbs of orchids, meristemetic tissue of some bamboos and desert trees, insects, rodents, birds, livestock and carrion. (B442.9.w9)
  • Spectacled bears feed on both terrestrial and epiphytic bromeliads, such as Tillandia fendleri, an epiphytic bromeliad found particularly on larger trees. (J345.15.w4)
  • In the Oyacachi River Basin, Ecuador, scat analysis indicated that the main foods were bromeliad hearts, particularly Puya spp. and Greigia spp., and fruits, especially those of motilon (Hyeronima macrocarpa (Euphorbiaceae)). Remains of beetles and ants were found also but only in four of 65 scats collected in 2000. It was noted that remains of Odocoileus virginianus - White-tailed deer and cattle were found in scats collected in 2001. Some signs of feeding on herbaceous plants (Anthurium and Asplundia spp.) were noted, but remains of these could not be distinguished in the scats. (J345.15.w5)

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Quantity Eaten

Source Information

SUMMARY: --
  • --

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Dietary Study Methods

Source Information

SUMMARY: Scat analysis and signs let by bears while feeding are the main methods used, together with finding of food items in bear nests and reports from local inhabitants.
  • Scat analysis and feeding signs (e.g. partially eaten plants, deep scars in cacti where bears have climbed, scars where trees have been climbed) were the main methods used to study the diet of spectacled bears in Peru. Contents of nests were also noted as were reports from villagers. (J332.61.w1)
  • Analysis of scats, findings of parts of carcasses in bear tree nests or ground nests, and signs of a carcass being dragged were used in a study of bear-cattle interactions in Bolivia and Venezuela. (J345.13.w3)
  • Feeding signs and analysis of scats were used to confirm reported food items. (P77.1.w1)
  • In Ecuador, feeding signs and analysis of scats were used to determine diet. (P77.1.w6)

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Authors & Referees

Authors

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

Referee

Ellen Dierenfeld (V.w16), Susanna Paisley (V.w99)

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