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Table of Contents
For more facts on these formidable animals, keep reading below or download the comprehensive worksheet collection to use within the homeschooling or classroom environment.
Polar Bear Facts
- The polar bear’s scientific name is Ursus maritimus, meaning “sea bear”.
- The polar bear is a hyper carnivorous bear. (A hypercarnivore is an animal that has a diet that is more than 70% meat).
- They inhabit the Arctic Circle and its surrounding seas and surrounding land masses.
- They are the largest bear species, as well as the largest land carnivore.
- It is related to the brown bear.
- The adult male is called a boar and weighs around 770 – 1,540 lb (350 – 700 kg).
- The adult female, a sow, is about half that size.
- Polar bears are born on land, but they spend most of their time on the sea ice.
- Polar bears’ preferred food is seals, and they hunt them from near the edge of the sea ice. When there is no sea ice is present, the polar bears live off their fat reserves
- Polar bears are classified as marine mammals because of their dependence on sea ice.
- The polar bear is also known as the “white bear”.
- Polar bears can live to be 25 years old.
Habitat and Characteristics
- Polar bears are marine mammals because they spend many months of the year at sea.
- It is the only living marine mammal with powerful, large limbs and feet that allow them to also cover kilometers on foot and run on land.
- The polar bear prefers areas where the sea ice meets water (these areas are temporary stretches of water in Arctic ice) to hunt the seals that make up most of its diet.
- Polar bears are very well insulated by up to 4 in (10 cm) of fat over which is their hide (skin) and their fur.
- Polar bears are excellent swimmers and can swim at 6 mph (10 km/h).
- When walking, the polar bears have a lumbering gait and can maintain an average speed of around 3.5 mph (5.6 km/h).
- When sprinting, they can reach up to 25 mph (40 km/h).
- They have an extremely well-developed sense of smell, being able to detect seals nearly 1 m (1.6 km) away and buried under 3 ft (1 m) of snow.
- Their hearing is about as good as that of a human.
- Their vision is also good at long distances.
- Although polar bears are usually quiet animals, they do communicate with various different sounds.
- Female polar bears communicate with their young with moans and chuffs, and the distress calls of both cubs and subadults consist of bleats.
- Cubs sometimes hum while they are nursing.
- When nervous, polar bears produce huffs, chuffs, and snorts while hisses, growls, and roars are signs of aggression.
- Polar bears are the most carnivorous members of the bear family, and their diet primarily consists of seals. Millions of seals live in the Arctic and become prey to polar bears when they surface in the holes in the ice in order to breathe or when they haul themselves out on the ice to rest.
- Polar bears hunt mainly at the interface between ice, water, and air.
- Polar bears stalk seals resting on the ice, raid birth lairs that female seals create in the snow, and wait for seals to appear through ice holes.
- Mature polar bears tend to eat only the calorie-rich skin and blubber of the seal, which are highly digestible.
- Younger bears consume protein-rich red meat.
- After feeding, polar bears are known to wash themselves with water or snow.
- Polar bears have also been known to charge a group of walruses in order to separate a young or injured walrus from the pod.
- Polar bears also prey on beluga whales by swiping at them at breathing holes.
- Polar bears sometimes swim underwater in order to catch fish.
- They will also eat small rodents, fish, eggs, reindeer, sea birds, ducks, vegetation, kelp, and berries.
- Being both curious animals and scavengers, polar bears investigate and consume almost anything they can find, including, unfortunately, hazardous substances littered by humans.
- In most areas, female polar bears begin to breed at the age of four years.
- Male polar bears usually reach sexual maturity at six years. Competition for females is fierce, so polar bears may not breed until the age of eight or ten.
- Courtship and mating take place on the sea ice in April and May. This is when polar bears congregate in the best seal hunting areas.
- After mating, the fertilized egg remains in a suspended state until August or September. During these four months, the pregnant female eats huge amounts of food, gaining at least 440 lb (200 kg) and often more than doubling her body weight.
- In the fall, when hunting comes to an end, each pregnant female digs a special maternity den, which consists of a narrow entrance tunnel leading to a chamber.
- Most maternity dens are in snowdrifts, but these may also be made underground.
- In the den, the female polar bear enters a dormant state similar to hibernation.
- Between November and February, cubs are born.
- They are blind, covered with a light brown fur, and weigh less than 0.9 kg (2.0 lb).
- Each litter has, on average, two cubs.
- The family will remain in the den from mid-February to mid-April. The mother will continue to fast while nursing her cubs on a special fat-rich milk.
- By the time the mother decides to break open the entrance of the den, her cubs have grown to weigh about 10 to 15 kilograms (22 to 33 lb).
- For the next 12 to 15 days, the family will spend time outside the den but remain within its vicinity. The mother will graze on vegetation in the area while her cubs become used to walking and playing outside the den.
- After that, they begin the long walk from the denning area to the sea ice, where the hungry mother can once again catch seals for food and nourishment.
- Depending on the timing of the ice-floe breakup in the fall, the mother polar bear may have fasted for up to eight months.
- Female polar bears have been known to adopt other cubs who are orphans.
Did You Know?
- Polar bears live on the enormous amounts of ice over the Arctic Ocean. Destruction of their habitat because of global warming caused by holes in the ozone layer, oil and gas mining, and the reduction of seals available to eat in their habitat are some of the reasons they have become an endangered species.
- Polar bears have white fur so that they are camouflaged in their snowy Arctic environment.
- Polar bears are not particularly good at hunting. It is a fact that only a very small percentage of their hunts are actually successful.
Polar Bear Worksheets
This bundle contains 11 ready-to-use Polar Bear Worksheets that are perfect for students who want to learn more about the polar bear which is a large white bear found in the Arctic and is often regarded as a marine mammal because it spends much of its time at sea.
Download includes the following worksheets:
- Polar Bear Facts
- The Bear Species – Eight of Them
- Habitat – They Live There
- Bear Den – My Den
- Word Creator
- Word Coloring
- Ursus Maritimus Tyrannus – Define the Terms
- Bear-natomy – Label and Describe
- Polar World
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the true color of a polar bear?
Polar bears look white because their thick fur is scattering sunlight, which is also white. Their actual skin is black.
Are polar bears aggressive?
Polar bears, unlike brown bears, are not territorial. They are normally cautious in confrontations and usually choose to escape rather than fight.
What color is a polar bear’s tongue?
The tongue of a polar bear ranges from dark blue to black.
What are polar bears afraid of?
Polar bears have no natural predators and know no fear of humans, making them extremely dangerous animals.
Where do polar bears sleep?
Polar bears typically curl up and dig shallow pits in the snow, sleeping with their backs to the wind.
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Link will appear as Polar Bear Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, January 8, 2018
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.