Polar Bears--School-age

Polar Bears

Polar Bear

Things to Know

The polar bear is a large white bear that lives in the the arctic region. The polar bear lives only in the Northern Hemisphere, on the arctic ice cap, and spends most of its time in coastal areas.

Marine Mammal

The polar bear is considered a marine mammal because of the characteristics they have for a marine lifestyle. They are made for swimming, they have tiny webs between their toes to help them swim. They have a thick layer of blubber to help them stay afloat. Their fur is two layers with the top layer making it easy to shake off the water after a swim and ice doesn't stick to their fur. The polar bear has excellent underwater vision. Also the polar bear's nose closes when it is underwater.

Polar bears may be active at any time of the day. They hunt in the day or at night. Polar bears tend to sleep more during the day than at night, probably because seals (the polar bear's main prey) are more active at night. The Polar bear is active year-round.

Where Do Polar Bears Live?

Polar bears live in the Arctic region of the north, and range in five counties: Greenland (Denmark), Norway, Russia, Canada, and Alaska (United States).

Arctic mapArctic map with the Arctic circle in blue.

Polar bears are found throughout the Arctic Circle and adjacent land masses.

Polar bears are rare in areas north of 88┬░north latitude.

Polor Bear Bodies

Polar bears survive in a sub-zero climate because of the design of their bodies. They have thick fur which enables them to insulate themselves, small ears and a short stub-like tail to prevent heat loss, and insulating blubber which helps them to stay afloat and keep heat in.

The paws of a polar bear act like snowshoes. The paws are wide and covered with fur to help the polar bear from slipping on ice and snow. The thick black pads are covered with bumps to prevent slippage on ice. The sharp claws grip the ice.

The length of polar bear paws usually vary polar bear pawsbased on how big their body is. The average size of a polar bear's paw is about 12 inches (30 cm ). Which is probably bigger than your face.

The forepaws of a polar bear are partially webbed between the toes to assist in
swimming. When swimming the polar bear uses it front paws to propel them through the water dog-paddle style with their head and much of their back above water. The hind feet and legs are held flat and are used as rudders to steer them.

Polar bears are stong swimmers. They can swim steadily for many hours to get from one place to another. A polar bear has been recorded swimming continuoulsy for 62 miles (100km). They may be capable of swimming farther if it was necessary. This type of long swim takes a lot of effort and energy and is not done frequently.

The scientific name for the polar bear is Ursus maritimus, which means "sea bear."

Size Of Polar Bears

The polar bear is the largest land-based carnivore in the world today. Like all bears, it is a mammal. Polar bears are the largest of all bears, and they are the largest predators on land.

Male Polar Bears

The average adult male is 8.5 feet (2.6m) but can grow up to 10 feet (3m) in height. The male weights between 775 and 1,500 pounds (350 and 700 kilograms).

Female Polar Bears

The average adult female is 6.5 feet (2m) in height. The female weights between 500 and 600 pounds (227 and 272 kilograms).

The female polar bear is smaller than the male polar bear.

What A Polar Bear Looks Like

Most people would say a polar bears fur is white, they would be correct for the most part. The polar bears fur varies from a pure white to creamy yellow to light brown depending upon the season and the angle of light. In warm weather polar bears fur can turn a light brown.

The polar bears fur is oily and water repellent. Their hair does not mat when it gets wet, allowing the polar bear to easily shake off water and ice that may form after swimming. Their coat is a dense polar bears insulating layer of underhair that is covered by a thin stiff layer of guard hairs.

Under all that fur the polar bears skin is actually black, which allows it to absorb sunlight for warmth.

A polar bears head is oblong and small compared to its body size. It has dark brown eyes that are set close together and look forward. The ears are small and rounded, and lay flat under water.Polar Bear Head

Unlike other bears the polar bear has elongated bodies and slender necks. The legs are large and stocky with hind legs longer than the forelimbs.

A polar bear has 42 white teeth, which they use to catch food and show during aggresive behavior. The teeth are extremely sharp and are used to shear off pieces of meat, tear tough hides, and grasp prey.

Polar Bears Diet

The polar bears diet consists of high fat but without any water. Polar bears don not drink water, the get the liquid they need from the prey they eat. Most of the drinkable freshwater is frozen. Polar bears are carnivores which means their diet is meat but they will occasionally eat plants. Their diet must consist of a lot of meat. Polar bears dine mainly on ringed and bearded seals. Seals live under the ice, a polar bear will find a seal air hole and sit by the air hole until a seal comes up to breathe then they grab the seal out of the hole.

They will also eat hooded seals, whales, and walruses. When food is unavailable polar bears will eat almost any animal they can get, inclucing rodents, reindeer, and seabirds.

Polar bear hunting

During the summer months polar bears will come ashore and eat some vegetation and berries. Polar bears in the wild do not catch and eat fish. Most fish in the Arctic Ocean are very deep and polar bears are not deep sea divers.

Do Polar Bears Hibernate?

Polar bears do not hibernate. Polar bears may den temporarily to avoid bad weather. Female polar bears den up in the winter with their cubs, but do not hiibernate. The dens are usually dug in snowdrifts or earth dens that later become covered by snow.

The male polar bear when he dens usually digs one chamber. A female polar bear when she dens digs many chambers.

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