Long enough to be all-purpose tools!
Grizzly bears’ long claws are as useful as Swiss Army knives – enabling them to swipe salmon from rivers, dig through ground for rodents, rip apart old tree stumps for insects and scoop out hard terrain to construct large dens.
Not only that, but Washington State University researchers occasionally observe grizzlies at the Bear Research, Education and Conservation Center using a single claw like a key to try to open locks.
These adaptable appendages can grow up to four inches long and are fairly straight, which helps grizzly bears with all the digging and uprooting they do. Conversely, lions’ claws are curved, which helps them capture and hold on to prey. Also, while lion claws mostly retract when not in use, grizzly claws are always extended. If you’ve ever seen grizzly bear tracks, you probably know this by the imprints left by the claws.
Like humans, grizzlies walk by placing their entire sole and heel on the ground, a stance known as plantigrade.
Because black bears walk the same way, how to tell their tracks from those left by grizzly bears? Generally speaking, black bears have shorter claws. Also, their five toe pads are slightly separated from each other, compared to the toes of a grizzly which are close together.