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Polar Bear image
Polar Bear

Polar Bear

(Mammal)

Polar Bear Baby
Polar Bear Baby

Polar Bear Habits

Polar bears are found throughout the polar region, but they spend most of their time along the southern edge of the icecap on coastal land near open water. They are solitary animals and are active at all times of the year.
Polar bears are also excellent swimmers. They cruise through the water at speeds of up to six miles per hour, using their front legs to propel them, with their hind legs trailing behind. With their eyes open and nostrils closed, they can dive underwater as well, remaining submerged for two minutes. When they emerge, they immediately shake the water from their coats before it freezes.

Polar Bear Communication

Polar bears use a combination of body language and vocalizations to communicate.
Head wagging from side to side often occurs when polar bears want to play. Adult bears initiate play, which is actually ritualized fighting or mock battling, by standing on their hind legs, chin lowered to their chests, and front paws hanging by their sides.
Nose-to-nose greetings are the way a bear asks another bear for something, such as food. The guest bear will approach slowly, circle around a carcass, and then meekly touch the other bear's nose. Bears who use proper manners are often allowed to share a kill.
Chuffing sounds are a response to stress, often heard when a mother bear is worried for her cubs' safety. Mother bears scold cubs with a low growl or soft cuff. When a male approaches a female with cubs, she rushes toward him with her head lowered.
Hissing and snorting and a lowered head all signify aggression. Loud roars or growls communicate anger. Deep growls are warnings, perhaps in defense of a food source.
Attacking polar bears charge forward with heads down and ears laid back. Submissive polar bears always move downwind of dominant bears.

Polar Bear Breeding

Springtime is the mating season for polar bears, with most activity taking place in April. Males seek available females; most females breed every third year after separating from their young.
In October and November, the bears dig dens in the snow or tundra. The dens are usually located on south-facing slopes of hills where northerly winds pile up large amounts of snow. The dens are used for giving birth. Young are born in November or December and weigh only 16-32 ounces. They are hairless, blind, and deaf. They first emerge from the den in March or April. They will remain with their mother into the third spring of their lives.

Polar Bear Food & Feeding

Polar bears feed mainly on seals. They wait for them to come to the water surface to breathe, or stalk them while they rest on the ice. The seal is killed by crushing blow to its thin skull. Polar bears eat everything - they cannot afford to leave anything edible behind.
In the late summer and early autumn, polar bears will patrol the coastal areas looking for whale and walrus carcasses. Sometimes ten to twenty bears may be found feeding together. At this time of year, their diet is more varied, including such land mammals as lemmings, arctic foxes, and eider ducks.
Like most bears, polar bears also eat vegetation.

Polar Bear Key Facts

        Size 
              Height: 5 feet to shoulder; When standing, 8 to 11 feet
              Weight: Males, 880-990 pounds; Female, 660-770 pounds
       Breeding
             Sexual maturity: 3 to 5 years
             Mating: March-June
             Gestation: About 7-8 months
             Number of young: Usually 2
       Lifestyle 
            Habit: Solitary, but sometimes come together to feed
            Diet: Mainly seal fat and skin; carrion; vegetation in summer
            Lifespan: In the wild, polar bears live an average of 15 to 18 years

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • Polar bears have a very acute sense of smell; they can smell carrion, such as a dead whale, from 20 miles away, and can sniff out seal dens that are covered with snow.
  • The black nose of a polar bear on the snow can be seen from six miles away on a clear day through binoculars. It has been said that, when stalking seals, the polar bear will cover its nose with a paw to escape detection.
  • The temperature inside a polar bear's den can be 40 degrees warmer than the outside air temperature.
  • Polar bear cubs learn to freeze and remain still while their mother hunts. If they move, the mother disciplines them, with a whack to the head.
  • When curled up, a polar bear may cover its muzzle (nose) with a paw to help conserve heat.

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