Cub Vocalizations – Mother Responses

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

VocalizationSituationMother’s Response
Pulsating humNursing (or, rarely, when warm and comfortable)Mother maintains position.
CryingUnderneath mother in den but can’t reach nipplesMother changes position.
Cub in den needs to defecateMother licks the cub’s anus and eats the feces.
Cub exposed to cold in the denMother uses the paw, chin, or mouth to tuck cub beneath her.
Cub is cold in snow outside the denMother 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.
BawlingCub wants to nurseMother may comply or not.
Cub wants ant colony or other food the mother has foundMother usually allows the cub to eat.
CooingCub separated from motherMother may come or not.
YellingCub separated from motherMother grunts with concern and returns to cub.
ScreamingCub in dangerMother comes running and may bluff-charge a nearby person, attack an intruding bear, or retreat.

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