Polar Bear—Member of the Bear Kind

by Avery Foley on May 19, 2017

Above image by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Polar bears are the northernmost member of the bear kind. They have black skin and water-repellant, hollow hair that reflects light, making them appear white. A thick layer of body fat protects them from the Arctic cold and the icy seawater.

Polar bears spend much of their time hunting on the sea ice. They primarily eat seals, which are high in fat. A polar bear will lie in wait beside a seal’s hole, ready to snatch up the seal when it comes up for a breath. They also eat walruses, whale carcasses, and even birds eggs.

Baby polar bears are born in dens the mother digs from snowbanks to protect them from the frigid temperatures. This den can be 38 degrees warmer than the outside air! The cubs, which weigh 1.5 pounds when they’re born, will usually stay with their mother for two or three years while learning how to hunt in the challenging Arctic environment.

Polar Bear With Cub

By Schliebe, Scott [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Ursidae
Genus/Species: Ursus maritimus
Size: 6–9 ft; in some cases they can grow up to 11 ft
Weight: 800–1,500 lbs; in some cases, they can weigh over 2,000 lbs
Diet: Seals, fish, plants, and birds
Habitat: Arctic tundra and sea ice
Life Span: 25–30 years
Special Design Feature: Polar bears have partial webbing between their toes to help them swim, and their large, flattened feet also have a nonslip surface to help them keep their balance on the ice.

Did You Know?

Because they are part of the same created kind, grizzly and polar bears can breed together? Their babies are called “grolar” or “pizzly” bears.

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