Polar bear, white bear (Ursus maritimus)
The polar bear is the largest species of bear. Even the mighty North American grizzlies or Kodiak bears give way to it. It is the apex predator within its range. Thick fur and a layer of fat protect it from the cold. The hair forming the bear coat is translucent; the coat as a whole is generally white or creamy in color, thus allowing the animal to camouflage well. The polar bear has a short tail and small ears, which helps reduce heat loss. Its relatively small head and long, narrowing back body give it a streamlined shape for swimming. It is an almost marine mammal that needs only a piece of floating ice and food found in the water to survive, as well as a place to give birth to and keep young bears.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Carnivora
- Family: Ursidae
- Genus: Ursus
- Species: Ursus maritimus
The polar bears live in the Arctic, Greenland and the northern regions of North America and Asia. They are most likely to stay in areas connecting ice with open waters. These animals are well suited to live in the Arctic ice environment – their white-yellow fur is very thick and long, providing excellent protection against the cold.
Diet and hunting
Bears are mainly fed on seals. They hunt alone, chatting next to gaps through which seals catch the air or steal to animals resting on ice. In such hunts, the polar bear behaves like a cat. As he approaches, he hides behind the ice blocks and then, when he is close enough, with a few long jumps overcomes the last distance from the victim. The polar bears are extremely strong, so they usually kill with a single paw strike.
In summer, polar bears supplement their diet with berries, mosses and other plants available at the time. They also eat carrion, often patrolling the coast for dead animals. They also attack bird colonies and sometimes kill reindeer.
The polar bear is under protection
Hunting for polar bears is currently severely limited. In all countries where these unusual animals are found, there are programs to protect them. However, Eskimos kill a small number of bears every year, mainly due to fur and nutritious meat.
The biggest white bear
The largest bear captured, was a record-breaking large male 1002 kg (2,210 lb), killed in Kotzebue Sound in north-east Alaska in 1960. This bear, standing on two feet, measured 3.39 m (11 ft 1 in).
The polar bear population is estimated to be between 20 000 and 25 000 individuals.
Detailed data / dimensions
Polar bear (Ursus maritimus)
- The majority of adult males weigh from 350–700 kg (772–1,543 lb)
- Length: 4–3 meters (7 ft 10 in–9 ft 10 in)
- Height at the withers of a male bear is from 122 to 160 cm (4 ft 0 in to 5 ft 3 in)
- Standing vertically, an adult male can reach a height of 39 m (11 ft 1 in)
- The female is usually about two times smaller and weighs between 150–250 kg (331–551 lb), measuring 8–2.4 meters (5 ft 11 in–7 ft 10 in) in length.
- Pregnant females can weigh as much as 500 kg (1,102 lb)
- Tail: 7 to 13 cm (2.8 to 5.1 in)
- After birth, the young bear cubs weigh only 600-700 g.
White bear – interesting facts
- The polar bear performs well on smooth and slippery slopes of glaciers. He slides over them on his stomach when it is necessary to restrain his hind legs.
- The polar bear’s milk contains a lot of fat. As a result, bears grow very quickly and almost never freeze.
- These animals are excellent swimmers and divers. Under the surface of the water, they can withstand up to 2 minutes.
- Polar bears have an excellent sense of smell. They can find the seal carrion even under a two-meter layer of ice.
- These animals can run at a speed of 40 km/h (25 mph).
- Young polar bears, just after birth, are no larger than a rat.
- The polar bear’s liver is … poisonous due to the high content of vitamin A.
- The skin of a polar bear is black … (not to be confused with fur, which is white or cream). Black skin absorbs sun rays better, thanks to which bears heat up on sunny days more quickly.
- The polar bear fur becomes yellow with age.
- In captivity, the color of polar bear fur often becomes greenish as a result of the development of algae in fur.
- The largest captured bear was a record large male weighing 1002 kg (2,210 lb).