Polar Bear Facts for Kids

Polar Bear Facts for Kids

Hey kids!  Do you want to learn cool and interesting facts about polar bears?  Did you know that polar bears are marine mammals and one of the few animals that live in the North Pole?  If you want to learn more, check out these polar bear facts for kids!

Polar Bear Facts for Kids

What is a Polar Bear?

A polar bear is the world’s largest carnivore that lives on land. Polar bears are mammals. They are part of the Ursidae family of bears.  There are eight species of bears in the Ursidae family.  The polar bear is the biggest out of all bears.  The scientific name for a Polar Bear is Ursus Maritimus, which means Sea Bear.

Adult polar bears are mostly solitary animals except during mating, meaning they spend most of their time alone.

Polar Bear Facts for Kids.  A polar bear sitting on an iceberg.

What Does a Polar Bear Look Like?

Polar bears are large. A male Polar Bear averages 10 feet tall and 1,500 pounds. A female Polar Bear can be 7 feet tall and 650 pounds.

A polar bear’s skin is black.  Their back skin helps keep them warm because black absorbs more heat from the sun than any other color.  If their skin is black, their coat/fur must be white, right? 

Actually, no, their coat/fur is transparent (clear). So, if their skin is black and their fur/coat is clear, what makes them look white? 

Their fur looks white because it reflects light from the snow.  A polar bear’s coat/fur is oily and water-repellent

This makes it easy for them to shake off the water and ice.

Under their coat/fur is a layer of blubber about 4 inches thick.  The blubber keeps the polar bear warm.

A mother polar bear and her cubs.

Polar Bear Features 

Polar bears have two small ears on the sides of their head.  Their ears are small so that they will let out less heat.  Because polar bears live in such cold climates, their body was designed to keep them warm.

Polar bears have two eyes.  They do not have eyelashes. Instead, they have a third eyelid.  Their third eyelid is called a nictitating membrane.  Their third eyelid helps protect their eyes from the sun.

Polar bears have an excellent sense of sight.  They can see well during the day and at night.

A polar bear has a black nose just above its mouth. Polar bears have an excellent sense of smell; they can smell seals from miles away.

Polar bears have large mouths with sharp teeth. They have 42 teeth in total. They use their teeth to hunt, kill, and eat prey.

Polar bears have four feet/paws.  The bottom of their feet/paws is covered with fur and rough pads.

The fur and pads help prevent polar bears from slipping on the ice. An adult male feet/paw can be up to 12 inches wide and 18 inches long.   Polar bears also have very sharp claws.

They use their claws to grab their prey.  Their toes are partially webbed to help them swim.

All Polar Bears are left-handed!

Communication

Polar bears are mainly solitary animals and usually stay to themselves.  When they interact with other polar bears or other animals, they growl, hiss, and show their teeth when angry.

Polar Bear swimming under the water.

Marine Bears

Polar Bears are the only bears that are considered marine mammals. They are considered marine mammals because they depend on the marine environment for their survival.

Polar bears are also excellent swimmers. They can swim 6 miles per hour and hold their breath for over one minute.

Polar Bears have wide front paws, and their toes are also partially webbed to help them swim.

They can also swim a hundred miles without stopping! Polar Bears have been spotted in the Arctic waters 200 miles away from land! 

Even though Polar Bears can swim long distances, they usually stay closer to land because it takes a lot of energy to swim far away. 

Polar bears are not only great swimmers, but they can run fast too.  Polar Bears can run 30 miles per hour for short distances!

What Does a Polar Bear Eat?

Polar bears are carnivores, meaning they eat meat. They are the world’s largest land predators.

Polar Bears mostly eat ringed seals, but they will also eat walruses, beluga whales, and bowhead whales.

Polar bears will stalk their prey on the ice. They will slide across the ice on their belly to sneak up on the seals.

Polar bears don’t usually eat all of the food they catch.  They often eat the intestines and the blubber under the skin.  The leftovers become food for ivory gulls and arctic foxes.

Polar bears will sometimes eat seaweed that has washed up onshore.

Polar Bears in their habitat, the tundra.

Where Do Polar Bears Live?

 Polar Bears live in the Arctic, an area of land surrounding the North Pole. They live in the USA (Alaska), Canada, Russia, Norway, and Greenland. Most of the Arctic is covered in ice and is frozen. Frozen, treeless land is called tundra. 

The tundra is a polar bear’s habitat.  

Most of the Arctic is an ocean.  The name of this ocean is called the Arctic Ocean. The Arctic Ocean is covered in ice most of the year.  Polar bears spend most of their time on the ice.

Besides Polar Bears, very few animals can live in the cold climate of the Arctic.  Animals that live in the Arctic include Arctic foxes, walruses, Narwhals, some whales, and Arctic Terns.

Polar Bears can live about 25 years old in the wild.

Mother polar bear and her cubs.

Polar Bear Cubs

 A mother, Polar Bear, is pregnant for eight months. Polar bears have babies in the winter.  When she is ready to give birth, she digs a den in a snowdrift. She will spend a couple of weeks alone in the den before giving birth.

A mother gives birth to 1-4 cubs, each weighing around 1 pound.

Cubs are born blind, deaf, and completely dependent on their mother. They will be able to hear in a little less than a month. 

They will open their eyes in a little more than a month.

The mother polar bear will stay with her cubs in the den throughout the winter. It is warmer in the den than outside, but it’s still really cold. It’s below freezing. 

To keep her cubs warm, the mother polar bear cuddles up next to them and feeds them her milk. The polar bear’s milk is full of fat, which also helps keep the cubs warm. During this time, the mother polar bear does not eat. She lives off of the stored fat from summer, eating all winter.

Cubs in the Spring

In Spring, the mother polar bear is ready to leave her den. She checks to ensure the surroundings are safe, and then she and her cubs come out. This will be the first time the cubs have been out of their den. The cubs play in the snow and get to know their surroundings.

Mother polar bears take very good care of their cubs. She will protect them against predators.  The number one predator of a cub is an adult male polar bear.

Cubs stay with their mother for about two years. During the two years, the mother polar bear will teach her cubs how to hunt, dig dens and protect themselves. Sometimes cubs die shortly after leaving their mother from starvation.

Polar Bear Threats

There are three main threats to polar bears: hunting, poaching (illegal hunting), and habitat loss.

The only predator of a Polar Bear is a human.  Polar bears were hunted for their fur.  Their fur is waterproof and warm, making it great for people living in cold environments.  Today most governments have outlawed polar bear hunting to save them.

Two main reasons for the loss of polar bear habitats are human population growth and global warming.

Global warming affects Polar Bears.  The Arctic ice is melting. The ice is a Polar Bear’s home and hunting ground.  Without it, they cannot survive.

Drilling or oil can cause pollution that harms polar bears.  The winds can carry toxins into the air and in polar bear territories.

Today, many organizations research polar bears and are helping to save their habitat.

References

Polar Bear by Malcolm Penny

Polar Bears by Gail Gibbons