10 Chilling Polar Bear Facts
Awesome and beautiful polar bears are some of the most amazing animals in the world and most people will never get to see these majestic animals in the wild as they are a threatened species. Polar bears are classed as a vulnerable species and could potentially be facing extinction due to loss of habitat which is being caused by global warming.
Check out some of our interesting facts on polar bears below:
1. Polar bears are the largest carnivorous land-based animals in the world, but are actually classed as marine mammals as most of a polar bear’s life is spent prowling the Arctic Ocean’s sea ice.
2. Although temperatures can fall to below −50°C in the depths of Arctic winters, polar bears have a water-repellent fur coat for insulation and protection and their thick layers of body fat for added warmth.
3. Polar bears use their front paws to swim and can reach speeds of up to six miles an hour. They keep their back legs flat when they swim and this helps them move around more easily as it acts like the rudder of a boat.
4. A polar bear’s diet is pretty much the same on a daily basis, as they tend to kill and eat ringed or bearded seals. They generally only manage to catch one or two seals from every ten they hunt, though, so need to spend most of their waking time hunting for food. There aren’t any natural polar bear predators in the wild, although cubs under the age of a year can fall prey to wolves.
5. Polar bears are quite solitary creatures, although males actively seek out females for mating in spring and the early summer months.
6. Pregnant females will dig a snow den in the autumn and spend winter months waiting for the arrival of their cubs. Most females have one or two cubs, but they can have up to three babies. The warmth of their mother and constant milk feeds mean polar bear cubs grow quickly and will usually leave the den by March or April of the following year. The polar bear family generally stays together for around two years and in this time cubs learn to hunt and fend for themselves. Once the polar bear family separates the female is ready for the mating cycle to start again.
Female polar bears are ready for mating at the age of four or five years, but males mature a little later and mate from the age of five to six years. The prime mating age for polar bears is ten years, however.
7. Polar bears are treated as a threatened species and were listed under the Endangered Species Act in the United States in May 2008. This is mainly due to loss of sea ice because of climate change which is reducing available Arctic ice (reference: https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/polar-bear).
8. Climate change and loss of sea ice is causing polar bears to migrate inland to areas where they have never been seen before. Over the past three years polar bears have been spotted at a variety of higher locations in the frozen wastes of Greenland as they need to hunt further afield for food. This is unusual as polar bears will generally remain at sea levels and don’t generally tend to climb or cross glaciers (reference: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2018/07/polar-bears-summit-station-greenland-ice-sheet-news/).
9. Although a polar bear’s diet tends to be seals, they have been known to prey on humans and other animals. One man was killed by a polar bear in the Hudson Bay area of Canada in 2018. The small communities in the Hudson Bay area are commonly sighting polar bears nowadays, as melting sea ice is forcing them off the ice packs for longer periods of time (reference: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/nov/27/canada-living-with-polar-bears-climate-change).
10. Two years ago a pack of polar bears killed and ate a dog belonging to Russian scientists in the Russian Arctic, trapping the scientists in their cabin until assistance arrived (reference: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2018/07/polar-bears-summit-station-greenland-ice-sheet-news/).
And, finally, polar bears can reach ages of 30 years and the oldest recorded wild Arctic polar bear reached a ripe age of 32 years. However, most polar bears only live for an average of 15 to 18 years.