Polar Bear Facts

Polar bear

WHERE DO POLAR BEARS LIVE?

Polar bears live in one of the most hostile environments on our planet – the Arctic. Temperatures here can get as low as -50 degrees Celsius. Polar bears have a thick layer of blubber and very thick insulating fur which helps them to stay warm. They’ve also evolved to have very small ears, a short tail and short legs. This keeps their surface area to volume ratio low, which helps them conserve heat.

WHAT DO POLAR BEARS EAT?

Polar bears require a diet high in fat in order to maintain their body temperature in the freezing Arctic conditions. Seals provide the perfect source of food for them – rich in fat and calories! To catch a seal requires a game of stealth. Seals are exceedingly fast swimmers, and although polar bears are also very competent in the water, they would be nowhere near fast enough to catch a seal. Instead, a polar bear will lay in wait on the ice, staying motionless next to a breathing hole waiting for an unsuspecting seal to come up for air!

WHERE ARE POLAR BEAR CUBS BORN?

When a female becomes pregnant, she builds a snow den in which to give birth and rear her cubs for the first few months. The cubs are so tiny when born, that without the protection of this den they would freeze. At the age of around 3 -4 months, mother and cubs will emerge from their den and make their way towards the sea ice.

The cubs will then stay with their mum for the next two years of their lives, roaming the sea ice and surrounding waters, learning how to catch food, and navigate their hostile environment before they’re ready to go it alone.

WHY ARE POLAR BEARS WHITE?

It may look like polar bears have white fur, but in fact each strand is transparent and hollow, reflecting its surroundings and giving the impression of being white. This is great for camouflage, enabling polar bears to have the element of surprise when hunting prey.

ARE POLAR BEARS ENDANGERED?

Polar bears are classified as vulnerable on the IUCN red list. Their main threat comes from climate change. Global warming has caused a huge reduction in the amount of sea ice in the Arctic, which poses huge problems for polar bears. Without the ice, it’s very difficult for them to find food, and resting places. Hungry bears will lose weight rapidly, and their subsequent health decline in turn makes it much harder for them to breed. The leading cause of cub mortality is a lack of food, for either the cubs, or the mothers.

HOW CAN WE HELP POLAR BEARS?

Anything that helps tackle climate change is good news for polar bears. Whether it’s cycling instead of taking the car, switching to green energy, or putting pressure on your politicians to do more. The more we can do to stop global warming will ensure that polar bears still have a future.