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Polar Bear

Polar Bear
Photographer: Ansgar Walk

Polar Bear Cubs

Polar Bear Range Map (Arctic & Northern Canada)
Polar Bear Range Map
(Arctic & Northern Canada)

Polar Bears Sparring

Polar Bear
Latin Name Ursus maritimus
Conservation Status Vulnerable
Location Arctic & N Canada
Colour Cream/White
Length 2.1 - 3.4 m (7 - 11 ft)
Tail 8 - 13 cm (3.25 - 5 inches)
Weight 400 - 680 Kgs (880 - 1500 lbs)
Life Expectancy

25 Yrs

Main Characteristics

Polar Bears are the largest species of bear. They have a body length between 2.1 and 3.4 m (7 - 11 ft), a tail length between 8 and 13 cms (3.25 and 5 inches) and they weigh between 400 and 680 Kgs (880 - 1500 lbs).

Polar Bears are large and have a stocky build. They have a long neck and strong limbs. Their feet are large and furry, and they have stiff hairs that grow on the soles to provide insulation and traction on the ice. They have a thick layer of blubber and, along with their dense coat, it provides them with insulation.

They have a black nose and black skin which helps to absorb and retain heat, keeping the animal warm in cold conditions. Their fur is translucent despite its white or cream appearance and it is water repellent enabling them to shake themselves dry after swimming.

Unlike other Arctic animals, Polar Bears do not shed their coat for a darker one during the summer months.

They are excellent swimmers and are well adapted for it, using their huge front paws as paddles. They are good hunters on either land, pack ice or in the water.


Polar Bears are found in Northern Canada and the circumpolar Arctic. They spend most of their time on the Arctic ice flows and they tend to remain near water if they are on shore. Their range is limited by the availability of sea ice that they use as a platform when hunting seals.

They are solitary animals except during the breeding season or a mother with cubs. Their annual home ranges are from 5,180 - 300,400 kms (3,218 - 186,659 miles) which vary depending on location and the availability of food.


Polar Bears are predominantly carnivorous. They mainly feed on ringed seals but sometimes they eat bearded seals. Their diet is also made up of beluga, walrus, fish, narwhal, reindeer, seabirds, carrion and during the summer months, kelp, berries and vegetation.

Polar Bears are also extremely dangerous to humans as any animal they encounter they will quickly size up as potential prey. They have the reputation as the only animal that will actively hunt humans.


Polar Bears mate from March - June and after a gestation period of 8 months they will give birth between November and January to 1 - 3 cubs.

The cubs are born in an under ground den and at first they are blind, helpless and only have a thin covering of fur. The cubs are very small at birth being approximately 30 cms (12 inches) long and weighing 700 g (1.5 lbs).

The cubs will open their eyes when they are approximately 4 weeks old and they will be able to walk at 6 weeks. When they are between 4 and 5 months old they will be eating solids and they will remain with their mother until they are 2 -3 years old. They will reach sexually maturity when they are between 3 and 4 years of age.


The only predators of Polar Bears are humans, killer whales and occasionally other Polar Bears.


There are no subspecies of Polar Bear.

Interesting Facts

Polar Bears are also known as:
White Bear
Sea Bear
Northern Bear

Polar Bears are the largest species of bear and the largest land carnivore.

They have a remarkable sense of smell and they are able to detect a carcass from 30 Kms (18.6 miles) away.

Similar Animals

Brown Bear
Giant Panda
Sun Bear
Sloth Bear
Spectacled Bear
Asiatic Black Bear
American Black Bear


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