Polar bears are among the largest carnivores in the world. They live in the Arctic usually on sea ice at the edge of pack ice. This is the best location for the bears to hunt and capture seals. Many scientists consider polar bears to be marine mammals since they spend so much time in or around the water. They spend so much time in the water and are comfortable in the ice cold arctic oceans. Polar bears can swim up to 100 km although this takes a great deal of energy. They generally like to live close to where seals swim in the water or come up on the ice.
What do polar bears eat?
Polar bears pretty much eat only ringed seals and bearded seals. They will travel great distances to hunt their prey. If they are fortunate enough they will also eat walrus, beluga whales and bowhead whales. Although they do not hunt these whales, occasionally they will come upon a whale carcass in their travels. A whale carcass will provide food for several bears and other animals brave enough to eat with the polar bears. A whale carcass will provide food for a bear for an extended period of time.
Birds eggs and also vegetation are sometimes eaten by the polar bears if they are hungry enough. They have been known to travel great distances by land or by sea in search of food. Sometimes they will swim up to 100 km’s in search of the seal packs. A hungry polar bear can eat as much as 100 pounds of food in one sitting.
How can they survive in the cold weather of the arctic?
Polar bears have adapted well to the cold weather in the Arctic. So much so that sometimes they overheat and have to swim in the cold water to cool off. There fur is thicker than other bears and covers even their feet. They also have a thick layer of blubber which provides additional insulation. They also have large feet and long legs providing excellent propulsion when swimming in the water.
More facts about polar bears
Male polar bears can weigh as much as 2200 pounds. They can be as long as 12 feet. Polar bears are formidable animals. They should be given a wide berth if you encounter one, especially when they are hunting.
They are considered an endangered species and require protection by government agencies. Polar bears are endangered due to melting sea ice, global warming and pesticides. Ice packs are melting more quickly forcing the bears to hunt on land. They are not well adapted to land hunting. In fact many on average are losing weight which also contributes to lower birth rates and decline in the population.
Polar bears typically do not hibernate in the winter time contrary to many other types of bears. Pregnant females will spend time in a den nursing their cubs until they are old enough to venture out onto the sea ice. Underweight females have a difficult time surviving this period.
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