Polar Bear Fun Facts

Polar Bear Mother and BabyFound only in the Arctic Circle and nearby landmasses, polar bears enjoy a wide range due to the lack of human settlements. Their range extends across five countries: the United States, Russia, Canada, Greenland, and Norway. The furthest South they will be found in the wild is Newfoundland. All five countries have signed the International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears, in which they are required to research and preserve the polar bear’s habitat.

Polar bears live in what is called the “Arctic ring of life”. This area of Arctic archipelagos is also home to the seals which make up most of the polar bear’s diet. Polar bears are hypercarnivores, meaning that 70% or more of their diet is made of meat. While polar bears don’t have much access to freshwater to drink, this isn’t a problem for them. They are able to produce water by eating the blubber of their prey.

 

Mother and Cub Polar BearsDue to the low density of human settlements in the polar bear’s range, they are largely unfamiliar with humans. This can lead to unpredictable behavior. Polar bears aren’t afraid of humans and usually will not be aggressive while unprovoked and content. However, attacks by polar bears aren’t unknown.

With each other, polar bears are typically non-aggressive and solitary. However, young polar bears frequently play together and even adults have been observed sleeping while holding one another and developing friendships. The primary form of communication between polar bears is vocal.

 

 

Two Male Polar BearsMale polar bears do fight one another, often viciously, over females during the mating season, in April and May. However, females mate with several males per season and cubs from the same litter often have different fathers. Mothers build or reuse maternity dens, which are built inland, under permafrost or snowdrifts. Inside the maternity den, mothers enter a state similar to hibernation, although they don’t sleep continuously and their body temperature doesn’t lower.

Cubs are born in the late fall and winter. Most litters have two cubs. The little family stays in their den for about a month, the cubs nursing from their mother. Then the mother breaks open the entrance to their den and the cubs learn how to walk, run, and play. The mother polar bear feeds mainly on nearby vegetation at this time. Once the cubs are strong enough, they return to the sea ice, where the mother once again hunts seals. The cubs watch and imitate her to learn how it’s done.

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