Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) on the pack ice north of Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, Norway, Scandinavia, Europe. By Alexey Seafarer | Shutterstock.com
Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) on the pack ice north of Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard, Norway, Scandinavia, Europe. By Alexey Seafarer | Shutterstock.com

About the polar bear.

As main predators in the Arctic marine ecosystem, they are at the very top of the food chain.


These animals eat up to 30 kg of food per day and their cubs 1 kg.


This species descends from brown bears, evolving as a separate species during the Pleistocene (1.8 millions of years ago until 11,000 years ago).


They live in an environment with extreme temperatures, withstanding even -30º in winter. They have a 11 cm layer of fat that maintains their body temperature, especially when they immerse themselves in cold water to hunt.


Besides their thick layer of fat, polar bears have a layer of hair that repels water and prevents them from losing heat at low temperatures.


The claws and soles of polar bears’ “feet” are huge, which helps them balance their weight to be able to walk on snow more easily. Their foot pads have tufts of fur that keep them from slipping on ice.


Surprisingly, under all that white hair, polar bears have black skin. This helps them absorb the heat of the sunlight.


They are extremely solitary animals. Only females remain with their cubs until they are 2 or 3 years.


A female can have 1-4 cubs per litter, but they usually give birth to two.


These animals cover vast distances (thousands of kilometres) searching for food when the season changes. Their acute sense of smell also helps them detect prey from far away.


They are great swimmers. They can swim more than 100 km without stopping when searching for food, a mate or just a new platform when the ice thaws.


It is the world’s largest carnivore, along with the Kodiak bear, which is a similar size.

Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus). By Benjamin B | Shutterstock.com
Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus). By Benjamin B | Shutterstock.com
COMMON NAMECONSERVATION STATUS
Polar BearVulnerable
SCIENTIFIC NAMESIZE
Ursus maritimus2,2-2,5 m (7.25-8 ft)
FAMILYWEIGHT
Ursidae175-700 kg (150-400 lbs)
ORDERLIFESPAN
Carnivora25-30 years
CLASSGESTATION PERIOD
Mammalia8 months with delayed implantation
POPULATIONDIET
26,000 individuals approx.They are carnivores that feed on Arctic animals, mainly reindeer and seal pups.
HABITATRANGE
They inhabit cold areas close to the sea, where they use platforms of ice to reach areas with a larger amount of food.Arctic areas close to the sea: north and west of Alaska and Wrangel island, Canada, Greenland, Svalbard-Franz Josef Land and Siberia.

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