Polar bear<<<< Back to bear species
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Carnivora
- Family: Ursidae
- Genus: Ursus
- Conservation status: Vulnerable
- Lenght: 2 m (78 in)
- Height: 1.3m
- Weight: Owls, Eagles, Snakes
- Food: Mice, Frogs, Fruit
- Weight: 450 kg (1000 lbs)
- Speed: 40 km/h (25 mph)
- Swiming peed: 10 km/h (6.2 mph)
- Habitat: Arctic sea ice
- Lifespan: 15 - 18 years
- Litter size: 1 - 4 cubs
The polar bear (Ursus maritimus) is found in the Arctic polar environment, in the Arctic Ocean waters, also on the surrounding land, being the largest terrestrial predator. Its lifespan is 35 to 40 years. Temperature here
is between -20 and -40 degrees, and in summer it reaches 0 degrees. Rainfall is around 100-300 mm/year. Cyclones also occur. In summer the ice melting occurs and the day lasts five months. In the south,
where it’s dry, we find the polar steppe soil (small shrubs, moss, lichen, herbs). This attracts polar bears. But their favorite place is the Arctic Ocean’s icecap, because there are marine mammals.
Its survival is threatened , like the scientists warned about global warming. Ice sheets already began to melt, the ice is almost 50% less than 60 years ago. One solution proposed was water transportation in these areas, and transforming it into ice. The polar bear is protected by law, countries such as Norway, Canada, Denmark have banned whaling since 1960.
Other names(synonyms): Ursus eogroenlandicus, Ursus groenlandicus, Ursus jenaensis, Ursus labradorensis, Ursus marinus, Ursus polaris, Ursus spitzbergensis, Ursus ungavensis, Thalarctos maritimus.
Food Polar bear
Competing with the brown bear for the largest terrestrial carnivore title, the majestic polar bear is the iceberg king of the Arctic. Its adapting to water classifies it as marine mammal. If needed, it
eats walrus and whale carcasses. The polar bear is almost entirely carnivorous, eating mainly young seals but also different cetaceans and pinnipeds. Mainly it hunts near the seashore,on the ice caps of
the Arctic islands. The polar bear is a powerful seal hunter. It is the most carnivorous of all species of bears, but also the most persevering and patient. It has a great plan of attack: sits near a hole
for hours waiting for seals to come out. One hard hit can bring the bear a nice meal, and to the seal, unfortunately, a quick death.
To maintain its massive body weight, the bear has to kill a seal every 5 to 6 days. It has a very big stomach, which allows it to eat up to 70kg in a single meal.
Appearance Polar bear
The polar bear is a large mammal with white fur. The large and strong claws are able to take down the natural opponents. It has a layer of fat under the skin, which helps protect against the cold, this
feature is also found in other animals in the tundra. It is an axcellent swimmer. Their body is similar to that of a brown bear. The head can reach up to 40cm in length, with a circumference of about 30cm.
They have extensible lips, teeth are smaller than with other species, but sharper and with a stronger neck. The extensible lips means they are not attached to the gums and can collect small fruits, and some
can even peel them. They have a well developed smell.
They can feel the prey from 30km away. The ears are small, external, but with a well developed hearing. The fur color is white, but it can be yellowish or gray during summer. The colors’ scientific explanation is that their hairs, colorless, are hollow inside like optical fibers and they lead ultraviolet rays to their black skin , where they are absorbed. The fur is very warm, and the body temperature remains unchanged when it is very cold. Their heating system is very efficient (in the hair coat there are microscopic air-filled ducts that provide excellent thermal insulation) and therefore some may wallow in snow to cool off. Forelegs are large,used for swimming, to ensure propulsion. The posterior ones are used as a rudder. The claws are non-retractable. The legs are larger than other bears (22cm wide) and they have hair on the soles and suckers to confer stability on ice.
Onshore they don’t run as fast as their relatives. In water it reaches 10km/h rowing only with the hindpaws, and can stay submerged up to 5 minutes. Like humans they move by touching the ground with their heels, but also with the sole and they can adopt a bipedal position when observing dangers, looking for food or fighting. The height of a polar bear is 1.6m. the adults weigh between 300 and 700 kg. They can reach a length of 2.5 m. Females are smaller weighing 180-360kg and having 1.8-2m in length.
Behavior Polar bear
Solitary by nature, polar bears roam large expanses, in a year they can roam over 51,000km2 of frozen land and travel over 40km daily. Their speed on the ice surface is lower, averaging 4km per hour, but
if needed, they can run with a top speed of about 40km per hour. They tire faster on land, and although they can walk through snow with their big paws, they feel better on ice, and sometimes on barren earth.
They can climb steep rocks of ice and were seen sliding down the hills on their belly, using their forelegs as brakes.
Positive aspects: their fur and meat is used by the population of this area. Negative aspects: they are considered dangerous. There have been reports of fatalities after meeting them, among the native population. It is an animal protected by law, its hunting is strictly forbidden. It is estimated that there are about 40,000 specimens in the wild. The polar bear is famous for the story of Fram, the polar bear by Cezar Petrescu. Fram is a circus artist , taken back to its habitat because otherwise it would’ve died in captivity. In reality it is difficult to train even if taken young from the wild, it hardly adapts to new conditions.
Reproduction Polar bear
Spring is the season when they seek their pair and can roam tens of kilometers to find a female bear without cubs. Mating period is from March to June.
Gestation lasts 195-265 days. The female begins the shelters construction starting October. She digs a tunnel, few meters long, continued with a 2 meter deep cave, leaving an exit to the south to avoid
being clogged with snow during blizzards from the north. Females give birth to two cubs on average. The cubs are born with their eyes closed and have a dense coat. They weigh about 600 grams.
The female bear will spend 10 days close to the den for the cubs to adapt to the cold climate. In April they come in contact with the climate and the environment. The den is a shelter for them because the temperature can reach +20 degrees. The cubs remain with their mother 2 or 3 years.
They reach sexual maturity at 5-6 years.
Did you know that:
- The polar bear can smell a seal from 32 km away?
- The hairs of the polar bear are transparent and their skin is black.
- The polar bear is one of the most massive carnivores.
- Polar bears are well protected against the cold so that their biggest problems are due to overheating, not the cold.
- It is the largest terrestrial carnivore with a weight that can exceed 1000kg.
- The polar bear can swim continuosly for a distance of 100km.