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Polar Bear

Walter Family Arctic Tundra

Did You Know?

  • Polar bears are the largest carnivorous land mammals on earth. They measure 7–8 feet long from nose to tail and males can weigh more than 1,700 pounds.
  • Polar bears spend most of their time at sea, but they cannot hunt seals underwater, so they use sea ice as a hunting platform. Unfortunately, climate change is reducing the amount of sea ice.
  • Polar bear fur is hollow and reflects light. Underneath the fur, the skin is black and covers a layer of fat.

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Scientific Name: Ursus maritimus

Class: Mammals

Diet: Seals (walruses, whale carcasses, bird eggs, and vegetation)

Range: Canada, Greenland, Norway, Russia, and Alaska

Endangered Status: Vulnerable

More Information

Polar bears are adapted to cold weather with their thick fur and large paws, which help them distribute their weight without breaking through ice. Their black footpads are covered with small, soft bumps called papillae that help them grip on slippery surfaces. They also have tufts of fur between their toes and footpads for additional grip. Their claws are thick, curved, and sharp, measuring about 2 inches long. They have partially webbed feet and are considered marine mammals.

These bears are generally solitary animals except when mating or taking care of cubs. They breed in late spring and experience delayed implantation, meaning that the embryo will not implant in the female bear’s uterus until conditions are right in the fall. Twins are common among polar bear births, and newborns weigh just one pound. Offspring remain in the den with their mother until March or early April. The mother does not eat or drink during the entire denning process. Polar bears reach maturity around 4–6 years of age.

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