Adorable Video Shows Bear Cubs Purring in Den, Snuggled next to Mom

Cute footage showing bear cubs purring in their den as they snuggle up to their mom has been released by the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

The footage, which shows the little cubs nursing, was taken as part of the Commission's annual black bear winter den visit. These monitoring visits are used to get data on bears in the state and understand denning behavior and ecology.

There are an estimated 20,000 black bears living in Pennsylvania, with numbers having increased in recent decades. Conflicts and interactions with humans are becoming more common as people move to areas where bears live.

Black bears normally hibernate in their dens over winter. Dens can be holes in the ground beneath shrubs and trees, hollowed trees or nests built at ground level. Cubs are normally born in January, with litters ranging from one to five bears.

black bear
Stock photo of a black bear cub. The Pennsylvania Game Commission released footage showing newborn black bears in a den with their mother. Getty Images

Newborn black bears are blind for the first six weeks of their lives and have no teeth. They start feeding straight away and are nursed by their mother for the first seven months of their lives.

The newborn bear cubs in the Pennsylvania Game Commission footage, which has been viewed over 134,000 times on Facebook, can be seen nursing from their mother, which has had a cover placed across her eyes. The mother was tranquilized for safety purposes before the cubs were tagged.

"Are those bear cubs purring?" the Commission said in the post. "YES! Black bear cubs tend to make purring or humming sounds when they are nursing. They may be tiny now, but in a few short weeks these cubs will leave the den with their mother. In seven months, they'll be weaned from their mother and weigh between 60-100 pounds by fall!"

The Commission said newborn bears have metal tags attached to their ears that allow them to be identified by wildlife biologists so they can be tracked around the state.

Bear cubs will stay with their mothers until they are about a year and a half old. They spend this time playing and imitating their mother so they are prepared to hunt and survive alone.

Cubs are at risk from a number of threats, including adult males, which are known to kill young. Mothers will communicate to their cubs using low grunts that signal them to climb a tree to escape.

Between a quarter and half of all black bear cubs will die before they reach one year. Other risks include drowning, cave-ins, starvation and infections.

A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Game Commission told Newsweek there are instances where they can intervene with individual animals: "We sometimes are able to treat bears for mange that would otherwise kill them. We sometimes are able to place orphaned cubs with surrogate mothers. But all of that is done within our management of the larger bear resource. Individual bears and families typically do fine on their own."

They also said there are several things residents can do to avoid conflicts: "Bears are strong, fast wild animals and should always be respected. That said, the bears here in Pennsylvania generally avoid confrontation. It's rare for a bear to attack a person here, and when that happens, it's often a result of someone inadvertently coming between an adult female and her cubs, or there's a confrontation between a dog and a bear and a person gets pulled into it. Bears that lose their fear of people also can be trouble.

"Statewide here, it is unlawful to feed bears, and in areas with bears, we highly recommend taking down birdfeeders, waiting until pick-up day to place trash curbside and otherwise removing potential bear food sources from properties, thus removing the main motivation for bears to come close."

This article has been updated to include quotes from a Pennsylvania Game Commission spokesperson.