10 Cool Facts About Polar Bears

Female polar bear with her twin cubs photo by:Photo on <a href="https://visualhunt.com/re/7fdb09">Visual Hunt</a>
Female polar bear with her twin cubs photo by:Photo on Visual Hunt

1. A polar bear’s skin (under its white fur) is actually black to help keep it warm. A polar bear’s white hairs are hollow to help it float while swimming.

2. A polar bear can growl, roar, chuff, hiss, whimper and purr.

3. An adult polar bear’s paw is the size of a dinner plate. Its footpads have small bumps on them, like those on a basketball, so the polar bear has traction on ice.

4. A sense of smell is a polar bear’s strongest sense. A polar bear can smell seals from several miles away.

5. Polar bears mainly eat ringed seals, but also eat bearded, harp and hooded seals as well as carcasses of beluga whales, walruses, narwhal whales, and bowhead whales.

6. Male polar bears are about 9 feet long (2.7 m) and weigh 1000 pounds (453.6 kg). A female polar bear is 8 feet long (2.4 m) and weigh 500 pounds (226.8 kg) (unless pregnant).

7. In the summer, a polar bear may not eat for 3 months. A mother polar bear won’t eat for 5 months while in a birthing lair. Polar bears do not hibernate.

8. Polar bears can hold their breath for 2 minutes. They doggy paddle with their front paws and steer with their rear paws while swimming.

9. A mother polar bear usually has twin cubs. At birth, cubs are the size of guinea pigs. They emerge from their den 3 months after being born so their mother can feed. They leave their mother after 2.5-3 years.

10. Polar bears can run faster than humans, but only for a few seconds.

Facts from children’s book The Polar Bear by Jenni Desmond

Polar Bears and Climate Change: Hear from a Polar Bear!

I’m the poster animal for climate change!

How Climate Change Affects Polar Bears

Hello, my name is Ursula. I am a polar bear. While it is flattering to be the poster “animal” for climate change, it just plain sucks to be a polar bear in this day and age. Don’t get me wrong, as I am very grateful to be alive. But life has gotten so much harder than when I was a cub. I was one of three triplets for goodness sakes! Food and mom’s milk was plentiful, and we cubs had plenty of time to play wrestle. When I give birth now, I am lucky if even one of my cubs survives.

The smell of change is in the air. There used to be a clean and cool scent that permeated the Arctic air. I especially liked it when that smell included the faint whiff of newborn seals! Now I sense restlessness, and the air smells foul, which hampers the scent of my prey.

How can humans doubt that climate change is happening right under their noses…oh wait, humans have a poor sense of smell compared to me, that must be why they don’t get it! In any case, climate change affects my every waking moment when the ice is around. Sea ice melts seasonally, but the ice season is much shorter now due to the environment warming. Sometimes the ice is gone before the newborn seal pups are born. Not good for them, and especially not for my tummy!

I love to swim, which is why I am a marine mammal. While I can swim for hours (up to 61 miles/100km), I would prefer not to! It would be nice to have the ice platforms closer together. Then I can conserve my precious energy hunting the fewer seals left! There are fewer seals not just because the ice is melting earlier in the season, but also because humans are overfishing many of the fish the seals eat.

Also see How Seals are Affected by Climate Change
and How Sea Otters Fight Climate Change

For more on climate change and polar bears, visit National Wildlife Federation