Ursus arctos middendorrfi
The largest subspecies of brown bear, a Kodiak can be up to 10 feet tall
when standing upright and weigh 1,400 pounds;
females are smaller overall but still larger than
most other bears. The large overall size includes
an enormous head with powerful teeth and jaws and
a bulky body that can store fat for the winter.
The claws are very long and sharp.
This particular subspecies is
brown in color, with the overall coloring on the
face lighter than than the rest of the body; this
is the easiest way to distinguish a Kodiak from a
Distribution and Habitat
This bear got its name because
it is only found in the Kodiak Archipelago in
Alaska. Its ancestors branched off from other
North American bears during the last ice age
about 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. The lack of
natural predators and an abundance of food in the
archipelago allowed the Kodiak to grow much
larger than its cousins. Thos same factors have
also allowed it to thrive, and the Kodiak is one
of the few bears to enjoy fairly stable
Fish are an important part of
the Kodiak's diet, especially during the
May-through-September salmon run, but it will
more often spend its time feeding on
vegetation rather than put in the time and effort
required to hunt and kill animals. It also feeds
on several types of berries, seaweed, and
invertebrates, as well as carrion.
Mating season runs from May
through June, when food is the most plentiful.
Unlike most other bears, Kodiak males only mate
with one female per year, reducing competition
between males for mating rights.
Fertilized eggs are not
implanted until October or November, and 2-3 cubs
are born in either January or February of the
following year, while the mother is hibernating.
The mortality rate of Kodiak cubs is higher than
that of other bears, with cannibalism by
adult males being one of the major causes of
death. Surviving cubs stay with
their mother for about three years, during which
time she will refuse all mating attempts.
Sexual maturity is reached at
about five years, but most females will not bear
offspring until they are about nine years of age.
Other Habits and
Although Kodiak bears are
naturally diurnal they can become more nocturnal
when faced with competition.
While very solitary by nature,
Kodiaks do not defend territories. They will also
congregate in large numbers where food is
abundant, and are intelligent enough to get the
food they need by working together when necessary
and to avoid unnecessary competition for food
Most Kodiak bears dig their dens in
mountainsides. Pregnant sows are the first to
begin hibernating, usually in late October. Males
(boars) are the last to begin hibernating and the
first to emerge, in April. Females with offspring
sometimes don't emerge until late June. About 25
percent of adult males remain active throughout
the winter and don't hibernate at all.
genus & species Ursus arctos middendorffi
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