May 07, 2017 03:48 AM EDT
Asiatic black bears are always seeking protein-rich food much before the summer in order to build up their lean muscle mass rather than the fat tissue formed before hibernation.
The study was arrived at by a team headed by Dr. Shino Furusaka, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology. The team members based their study on the Asiatic black bears living in about 60 km in Japan. The study was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.
Scientists examined the Asiatic black bears' food preferences and habits in the Ashio area of the Ashio-Nikko Mountains in Japan from April to July in both 2013 and 2014. They put up their base almost 200 meters away and used video cameras with telescopic lenses to compile information. Researchers explored the Asiatic black bears' nutritional content and also arrived at conclusions about their nutrition after the hibernation, according to Phys.org.
It was noticed that the Asiatic black bears tend to go for food that is higher in protein rather than fiber, mostly because their stomachs and intestines could not digest it. Food richer in protein helped to rebuild the muscle mass that could restore the fat lost due to the winter. With spring, the bears shifted their diets according to the nutritional value of the food that was available.
Scientists began their study in the beginning of April but started to record the feeding behavior only at the end. Without leaf flush, the Asiatic black bears were active and consumed overwintered grass. However, as May set in, they began to eat newborn leaves, grass and later even flowers.
But later, in June and July, the Asiatic black bears were observed consuming mainly ants, grasses, sika deer carcasses, and bees. Strangely, the same plants that the animals had fed on a few weeks ago were discovered to be poor in protein but rich in fiber. Calories in various food items were not linked to the choice of food. Hence, protein seemed to be the main factor for choice, even as the fiber content is low.