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Polar bears are giant white bears. They are the largest land predators in the world. They can weigh up to 1500 pounds and are twice as large as a lion. Polar bears can be up to 10 feet long.
Where do they live?
Polar bears live far to the north in the freezing Arctic. They are well insulated from the cold with heavy fur and a thick layer of fat. The polar bear's white fur also acts as camouflage in the snow and icy Arctic terrain. Polar bears live on the ice in the winter and on land in the summer once the ice melts. Sometimes in the winter they may be over a 100 miles from shore.
What do they eat?
Polar bears hunt on land and on sea. They are comfortable in the icy water and swim with their front paws similar to dogs. Seals are the polar bear's main source of food, but polar bears eat all sorts of things including small animals and berries. Polar bears will often hide by a hole in the ice where seals come up for air. When the seal comes up for air, the polar bear will grab the seal with its sharp claws.
How do they stay warm in such cold weather?
Polar bears have adapted to the cold of the Arctic. First, they have a thick layer of fat that helps insulate them from the cold. It is usually around 3 to 4 inches thick. Second, they have a thick layer of outer hair made of hollow tubes filled with air. This outer hair helps to keep their inner fur from getting wet when they swim in the icy water.
Are they dangerous?
Although polar bears look cuddly and nice, they are very dangerous and aggressive. They often wrestle to practice fighting with each other, but rarely actually hurt each other. A mother will staunchly defend her cubs, so don't go anywhere near a mother and her cubs.
What are polar bear babies called?
Polar bear babies are called cubs. They are born in the winter, usually in January or December. When first born, a polar bear cub weighs only 1 pound. It can't hear or see and has very little fur. Cubs will stay with their mother for a few years and she will teach them how to hunt and forage for food.
Are they endangered?
Polar bears are not currently classified as endangered, but they are listed as threatened and vulnerable. It is estimated the current population of polar bears is at around 25,000, but is declining. They are threatened by a shrinking habitat, pollution, and illegal hunting.
Fun Facts About Polar Bears
- They can see great under water.
- The fur of a polar bear isn't actually white, but is actually clear tubes of hair that make them look white.
- They are patient and will wait for hours above a seal hole for a chance to catch dinner.
- They have a great sense of smell and can smell a seal that is up to 20 miles away.
- They don't hibernate, but they do stay warm in the winter by sleeping in a den.
- They have been known to go on long swims of over 100 miles.
- They are at the top of the food chain in their environment.
For more about mammals:
African Wild Dog
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