Bear Lifespan: How Long Do Bears Live?

Written by August Buck
Published: January 23, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/Marc_Latremouille
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Known for being one of the top apex predators around the world, bears are beautiful and ferocious creatures. But how long do bears live, and what can you expect to learn about a bear’s lifespan, varying from species to species?

In this article, we will discuss how long these beautiful creatures live, what their life cycle is like regardless of their species, and how their lifespan might differ depending on the type of bear that they are. If you’re ready to learn all about bears, let’s get started.

How long do bears live?
Known for being one of the top apex predators around the world, bears are beautiful and ferocious creatures.

iStock.com/Marc_Latremouille

How Long Do Bears Live?

Bears live an average of 10-20 years, depending on species. Some species live closer to 30 years of age! Given that bears are usually at the top of the food chain in whatever ecosystem that they are in, bears have very few natural predators or threats.

Humankind is the most likely culprit when it comes to shortening a bear’s lifespan. Depending on the location and species, bears are hunted for their fur or for sport. However, some young bears die from starvation or falling out of trees as well.

No matter the species of bear, most go through a very similar life cycle. From polar bears to black bears, what is that cycle like? Read on to learn more!

How long do bears live?
Bears live an average of 10-20 years, depending on species. Some species live closer to 30 years of age!

Anne Kiel/Shutterstock.com

The Average Bear Life Cycle

If you are curious what it’s like to be born as a bear cub, let’s take a closer look at their life cycle and growth as bears age.

Newborn

Depending on the species of bear, many cubs are born seasonally and at the same time. For example, black bears usually give birth in the winter time, particularly January. Grizzly bears are a bit different, giving birth in the early springtime. Some bears only give birth to one cub, While others will give birth to up to 5. 

Most species of bears are born without fur and without the use of their eyes. They are completely dependent on their mother for the first week of their life, feeding and sleeping in the comfort of their warm den. Given the cold environment in which they are born, polar bears are the exception to this rule, though their fur is still not fully developed upon birth. 

Young Bear, or Cub

How long do bears live?
Most species of bears are born without fur and without the use of their eyes.

iStock.com/USO

While most bear cubs will gain their senses and ability to walk within a few weeks of being born, they are still dependent on their mother for the first year of their lives. Many different species of bears stay with their mothers until they reach the age of 4 years old. 

Baby bears grow rapidly during this time of their life. They are curious, playful, and constantly learning from their siblings and mother. Mother bears are extremely protective over their cubs, and you should avoid a baby bear should you see one. Chances are, their mother is close by!

Even after baby bears are fully grown, they remain close to their mother. Even when a mother black bear chases away her young to establish some independence for them, she still protects them and their mutual territory from other bear families. 

Adult Bear

How long do bears live?
Mother bears are extremely protective over their cubs, and it is always advised to avoid a baby bear should you see one.

iStock.com/Byrdyak

Once a bear is fully grown, it is a solitary and independent individual. Female bears will mate and take care of their young, while male bears live completely alone unless it is mating season. This is largely due to the fact that they are extremely territorial, even with their own young. 

Most bears reach sexual maturity between the ages of three and five, but most species are not adult age until they are at least seven to 10 years old. However, once baby bears earn their independence from their mother, they are adult age, whether biology says so or not. 

Given the wide range of bear species around the world, let’s take a moment to discuss the lifespans of different species of bears. Let’s also talk about the lifespan difference between wild bears and captive bears. 

Lifespans of Different Species of Bears

How long do bears live?
Once a bear is fully grown, it becomes a solitary and independent individual.

BGSmith/Shutterstock.com

There are many different species of bears found throughout the world, in varying climates and locations. Here are some of the more popular species of bears, and what their lifespan is like. 

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About the Author

I am a non-binary freelance writer working full-time in Oregon. Graduating Southern Oregon University with a BFA in Theatre and a specialization in creative writing, I have an invested interest in a variety of topics, particularly Pacific Northwest history. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping along the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my home kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast iron skillet.

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