Polar Bear Facts for Kids
The scientific name for the polar bear is ‘ursus maritimus’ Maritimus means the sea bear. It is known as a marine mammal because it has some characteristics that adapt it to sea life. They swim, paddle, and have super vision under water. In our article today we will discuss some interesting facts about polar bears.
1. Polar bears live in cold places
The natural habitat of polar bears is in the Arctic in Canada, Russia, Greenland, Alaska in the US and Norway countries.
While the arctic is known for extremely freezing temperatures, bears still manage to remain warm thanks to the 10 cm thick layer of fat under their skin and their thick furry coat. The fat under the bear’s skin is called blubber.
Their black skin is also a good heat retainer and helps them stay warm.
2. Black Skin and White fur
Interestingly, polar bears usually have black skin which is covered with fur. When you see it white, it is because its fur is a hollow transparent tube that only reflects light.
This feature gives the bear great advantage in their environment especially when they are hunting.
3. Textured paws
Polar bears have characteristic textured paws that help them swim in water and stand on ice. Their front paws are wide and webbed. While swimming, they paddle with their front paws and swim with their hind paws.
4. The liver stores nutrition in blubber
Unlike other mammals, polar bears have a special liver that processes all they eat to be stored in their blubber. A polar bear’s blubber has Vitamin A ten times more than normal animals.
5. They have small ears and tails
Polar bears have rather small rounded ears for their large body size. This is an adaptation to cold temperature as the smaller the ears the lesser heat they lose.
They have short tails which also prevent them from losing heat.
6. Polar bears are heavy
Bears can be quite huge with some males weighing up to 680kg or 1500pound. Even the heaviest human being cannot weigh a third as much as a bear.
Female bears weigh less 340kgs or less which is half the weight of their male partners.
Given its weight, a bear can surprisingly run at a speed of 25 miles per hour and slower at 6miles per hour in water.
7. Polar bears are great swimmers
Did you know that bears are great swimmers too? These mammals can swim a great 100km into sea water, paddling with their wide webbed paws. Because they have oily, water repellent fur, bears easily shake off ice and water from their bodies after swimming.
8. Polar bears eat seals and walruses
Did you know that the bear is the largest meat-eating animal that lives on land. Polar bears enjoy eating seals and this forms their main dish.
These seals normally live in water under the ice on the sea and as such, bears know how to hunt for them at their breathing holes. With the help of the bear’s strong sense of smell and a strong ability to detect seals from as far as16km, bears are pretty good hunters.
Polar bears also feed on other marine mammals found in the arctic like the whales, narwhals, and walruses.
When the polar bear will not find seals to feed on, you will find them nibbling at pants and berries close to the shore or any other animal they can lay their paw on. Rodents, sea birds, and reindeers make a good substitution for seals.
9. Polar bears rarely drink water
Just to surprise you, polar bears do not drink water at all! This is because any water they could have drunk is iced on the sea therefore, they depend on water in the seals they feed on.
10. Their Population
It is estimated that polar bears are 20,000 in number. Probably why they are rated vulnerable.
Polar bears are accustomed to freezing temperatures but because the climate is changing and global temperature is rising, ice on the sea melts a bit faster and forms much later than usual. This way, bears don’t have ample time to hunt for food and so they are vulnerable.
Each of the countries in which bears have their natural habitat observes strict rules on hunting polar bears to prevent them from facing extinction.
The Little Polar Bear Cubs
Polar bear cubs are born in snow dens during the months of November and December. These are winter months and during this time, the Arctic experiences extremely harsh temperatures. These mammals usually hide in snow dens to keep safe.
At birth, cubs weigh just about half a kilo and hang around their mother for the next two years. However, it takes them around four or five months to come out of their snow dens to bask in warmer spring temperatures.
Four or five years after birth and the female polar bears are ready to give birth to their own cubs.
A polar bear can live up to 25 years.
How many teeth does a polar bear have?
A matured bear has 42 sharp teeth to help them grab and tear their prey when hunting.
How do polar bears spend their day?
These marine mammals are usually active during the night perhaps because their prey is also active at night.
They sleep more at daytime than at night.
What unique facts did you learn about bears today?