How ‘bout Dem Bears?
In Mythic Orbits Vol. 2’s “Seeking What’s Lost,” game designer J’nia Washington has written a grizzly bear character for a contest put on by RPG company Horizon Systems. To get the bear right, she did a good bit of research. Here are 10 facts J’nia wanted to share with you about bears.
- Bears are not generally territorial.
- Although bears can vocalize, they typically don’t. The biggest exception to that is cubs who feel threatened. They’ll whine or cry out to get Mom’s attention.
- In a flat out sprint, bears have been clocked at 37 miles per hour. So, no, you can’t outrun one.
- Female bears are called “sows.”
- They have good eyesight and an even better sense of smell.
- Grizzlies are more likely to attack than black bears, but they’ll still try to scare off a threat before resorting to a fight.
- A bear’s typical diet is 90% plants (roots, bulbs, berries, grass) and 10% meat (carrion, fish, young deer/elk/moose). They are considered omnivores, so they do eat anything … including whatever’s in your pic-a-nic basket.
- Bear body language can be interesting. Is the bear standing on two feet? He’s trying to see better. Sitting? He’s pretty chill. Moving away from you after knowing you’re there? He’s showing you respect. Totally unhappy with you? He’ll slap the ground or vegetation, clack his teeth, bluff charge (fake attack) if totally miffed, or blow out a breath. Proving he’s a bigger threat than you? He’ll turn sideways, flatten his ears, or circle you with his head up.
- Bears weigh in between 290 pounds for a female and 600 pounds for a male with personal variation across that whole range.
- Grizzlies are called “brown bears” but they can range from blond to black. Black bears likewise range that whole gamut of color. So how can you tell them apart? There are visible differences in the head structure and the shoulder structure. Check out this site for more info on that.
Bonus: How else can you tell a grizzly from a black bear?
Climb a tree. If it chases you up the tree, it’s a black bear. If it knocks the tree down, it’s a grizzly. ( < — That’s a joke. Don’t actually try that, silly.)
Originally from Michigan, Cindy Koepp combined a love of pedagogy and ecology into a 14-year career as an elementary science specialist. After teaching four-footers — that’s height, not leg count — she pursued a Master’s in Adult Learning with a specialization in Performance Improvement. Her published works include science fiction and fantasy novels, a passel of short stories, and a few educator resources. When she isn’t reading or writing, Cindy is currently working as a tech writer, hat collector, quilter, crafter, and crazy African Grey wrangler.