Description of the bear

The brown bear's fur is very thick, which gives its body a round impression. The bear's ears are small and round yet clearly distinguishable. The colour of the bear varies from black-brown to yellow-brown.

A bear walking in peatlans. A bear walking in peatland. Photo: Petri Timonen.

The bear is the largest predator in Finland

  • Body length: 135–250 cm
  • Female bears weigh 45–170 kg and males weigh 47–300 kg
  • The tail is 5–15 cm long and partially covered by fur


The bear's long snout, which houses the olfactory epithelium, is indicative of its highly evolved sense of smell. The bear's eyesight is poor and its eyes are relatively small.

The structure of the bear's teeth speaks volumes about its diverse diet. The canines are long and strong, which allows the bear to hold and kill its prey. Only a quarter of the bear's diet consists of meat, so its carnassial teeth are relatively small when compared to other large carnivores. The bear's molars with their wide and bumpy surfaces are better suited for grinding vegetable food than cutting meat. The wide zygomatic arch is indicative of a well-developed muscle between the arch and the lower jaw, which enables a powerful sideways grinding motion between the upper and lower jaws.

The bone ridges at the back of the skull facilitate the attachment of powerful neck muscles. This allows the bear to move even large prey animals around for later consumption.

Bear tracks

The bear has the largest tracks of all of Finland's native species. The paw print of a bear's hindpaw slightly resembles the footprint of a human. In summer the bear might leave behind a destroyed anthill or tree stump. The bear's winter den is very difficult to find.

Bear behaviour and reproduction

When snow is on the ground, the bear is in hibernation. Bears retreat into their winter dens between September and March and wake up again in March–May. In the summer the males move around a lot more than most people think.