Cub Vocalizations – Mother Responses

Because bears are intelligent animals, much of their behavior is based on learning rather than instinct, so responses may vary.

Vocalization Situation Mother’s Response
Pulsating hum Nursing (or, rarely, when warm and comfortable) Mother maintains position.
Crying Underneath mother in den but can’t reach nipples Mother changes position.
Cub in den needs to defecate Mother licks the cub’s anus and eats the feces.
Cub exposed to cold in the den Mother uses the paw, chin, or mouth to tuck cub beneath her.
Cub is cold in snow outside the den Mother rolls over and lets the cub climb onto her belly and snuggle against the skin between her hind legs.  She draws her legs up around the cub and covers it.
Bawling Cub wants to nurse Mother may comply or not.
Cub wants ant colony or other food the mother has found Mother usually allows the cub to eat.
Cooing Cub separated from mother Mother may come or not.
Yelling Cub separated from mother Mother grunts with concern and returns to cub.
Screaming Cub in danger Mother comes running and may bluff-charge a nearby person, attack an intruding bear, or retreat.
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