Foraging and Sleeping Habits of the Common
J Bear Res (1993) 83:414-418
Bears are generally reclusive creatures with no significant contact with human beings. As a result, we know little about their daily routines and habitat. In particular, information is scanty regarding ursal food preferences and factors influencing the choice of furniture found in bear dens. The author attempted in situ measurements under natural conditions in order to gain insight into the life of the forest bear.
Three parameters of daily life of the forest bear were selected for close scrutiny: food temperature, sites chosen by bears for relaxation, and the relationship between body mass and hibernation sites. The temperature of freshly prepared breakfast material was assayed qualitatively by probing samples with a moist tongue. Compressibilities of sleeping surfaces were assessed as the degree of distension when the chair was subjected to the weight of the experimenter. Chair sizes were also noted. All measurements were taken in triplicate.
Interestingly, all three kinds of measurements gave wide ranges of values. Porridge temperatures ranged from too cold to too hot, seats from too tall to too short, and beds from too hard to too soft. Technical problems hampered efforts to obtain definitive data. For example, critical measurements on seat distensibility had to be discarded because a chair broke during the course of the experiment. In fact, the entire project had to be abandoned during the final measurements when the sudden return of the bears to their lair greatly increased the likelihood of experimenter error.
Despite the technical difficulties in performing these experiments, certain general conclusions are possible. Bears, as judged by their artifacts, are quite polymorphic: some large, some small, and some in between. If one can extrapolate from a limited sample, even kin groups tend towards heterogeneity of morphic types. The causal relationship, if any, between ursal size and lifestyle awaits the possibility of controlled experiments.