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Facts about Polar Bears

Updated on October 17, 2014
Polar Bear laying in the snow.
Polar Bear laying in the snow. | Source

Polar bears are beautiful animals that live in the wilderness of the Arctic Ocean Islands and other surrounding areas. These great creatures are now losing their habitats and are on the endangered species list due to global warming. This article will tell you all about their exciting lives and existence! From their habitat, to feeding/hunting styles, breeding, behaviors and other interesting facts!

Did you know

Polar bears claws on its paws act like snow tires and can enable it to run as fast as 25 mph. A polar bears twelve inch wide paws help to keep it balanced and from sinking into the snow. Males can reach up to 1,595lbs while females can reach up to 548lbs.

Habitat

Polar bears live in the far northern regions around the Arctic Ocean. More specifically they can be found off the coasts of North America, Northern Russia east to Siberia, Greenland and many other Arctic Ocean islands. Polar bears live on the sheets of thick ice that float around the Arctic land masses, this is because the ice provides the perfect hunting ground for their favorite prey, seals. As the ice sheets move from season to season the polar bear swims from sheet to sheet. Deep cracks and inlets can appear in the ice-fields that can attract marine mammals and birds. Seals are often attracted to these openings and where there are seals, polar bears are not far away.

Diet and hunting

Food and hunting are important for polar bears to stay alive. The main prey for Polar bears are seals but they will also feed on the dead carcasses of other animals such as whales. Due to polar bears being less agile under water then seals, it must surprise it's victim on the ice sheets. Waiting by a seals breathing hole in the ice is the polar bears favorite method of attack. It waits until the seal pokes its head out for a breath of air then strikes. With strong jaws and large paws it clubs the seals head and bites down until it is able to drag the dead seal out of the hole.

Polar bear feeding on a seal
Polar bear feeding on a seal | Source
Polar Bear Cubs
Polar Bear Cubs | Source

Did you know

Sexual maturity happens between 4-5 years but most males don't mate until they are 8-10 years old. Also a mother Polar Bear can have anywhere from 1 to 4 cubs.

Breeding and behavior

During breeding season polar bear mothers will sniff out seal dens under the snow and crash through them to get to the seal pups inside. Seal pups are rich in fat and it's exactly what a polar bear cubs diet needs. Also, during the summer months, polar bears will creep up on seals on the ice and when they are within striking distance will race across the few feet of ice to catch seals.

Breeding for polar bears happens in springtime and females with cubs don't mate. Due to cubs being with their mothers for up to three years, few females are available to mate. Males will fight over available females and usually ends in a bloody battle with the looser badly wounded. Females will feed and can even double their weight after mating to build up fat reserves while being pregnant. Between November and early January, cubs are born in deep snow dens. Usually there are two cubs that weight 1lb each but they grow fast on their mothers milk. They can weigh up to 29lbs when they finally emerge from the den.

Polar Bear's are mostly solitary animals with the exception of mothers and her cubs. They do sometimes gather around if there is a large food source such as a whale carcase but they can get aggressive over food. Polar bear males will also kill off young male cubs because they can mature and become mating rivals in the future. They also keep on the move due to the shifting ice sheets but they don't need a permanent shelter due to their massive size and thick coats and layers of blubber. If a storm rolls in they will likely lay down to reduce surface area or hide behind a snowbank.

Did you know?

Helping the polar bear swim swiftly through the water is a stiff layer of outer fur protecting a thick layer of underfur. Thick fur and four inches of blubber help keep the bear warm while it swims in the ice cold waters while it uses its webbed paws to doggy paddle through the water.

Now that you know a little bit more about these magnificent animals, you can appreciate how much we need to protect them. Their habitats are shrinking and they are running out of room to hunt and live. If you would like to learn more or help these great creatures please visit this link below and look around.
http://www.worldwildlife.org/species/polar-bear

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