polar bear



We explain what the polar bear is, its habitat, food, reproduction and more. Also, what risks do you face as a species?

The polar bear is one of the largest land carnivores.

What is a polar bear?

It is known as a polar bear or also a white bear (due to the color of its fur, ideal for hunting between ice and snow) a species of mammal quadruped, typical of the frozen regions of the Arctic, which constitutes one of the carnivores largest terrestrial today. Its scientific name is Ursus maritimus.

The polar bear belongs, logically, to the family of bears (ursidae), a branch of carnivorous mammals that originated about 4.8 million years ago, and constitutes one of its youngest species, the oldest fossils of which date from approximately 130,000 to 110,000 years ago, at which time it separated from the brown bear (Ursus arctos).

Although it was discovered as a species by the British Arctic explorer Constantine John Phipps (1744-1792) in 1774, it was actually known to Inuit peoples for a long time and referred to in their language as “nanook”.

It is the only super predator of the habitat from the arctic: an animal as beautiful as it is fierce, an excellent swimmer and adapted to the inclement temperatures near the pole.

Its black skin, which attracts more solar radiation and helps to preserve the heat, It is covered with a translucent fur, which due to the effect of solar radiation is perceived as white or sometimes yellowish, although in captivity it can turn greenish, due to the growth of algae on its surface; something that, in its natural habitat, would never have happened.

Characteristics of the polar bear

The polar bear is a fascinating animal that has the following characteristics:

  • It is quadruped, that is, it walks on its four legs, ending in sharp and short claws, designed for sea hunting.
  • Its fur is white and covers it completely, although underneath there is a rarely visible black skin. Beneath the skin and dermis they have a dense layer of fat that isolates the body from the environment, and that only thins on the head and muzzle.
  • The males of the species are usually about 2.6 meters long and weigh between 350 and 680 kg, while the females are around 2 meters and a few hundred kilograms less in weight. It is, therefore, a very bulky and heavy animal.
  • They are solitary hunters, endowed with a smell prodigious and a bite of 86.83 kilograms-force per square centimeter, that is, stronger than that of the white shark or the Bengal tiger.
  • They have an amazing ability to swim: they can cover about 10 kilometers per hour of straight swimming. However, their feeding it is always produced in the dry. Your skin is also waterproof.
  • They do not hibernate during the harsh arctic winter, spending about 50% of their lives looking for something to eat.

Where does polar bears live?

Polar bear habitat is restricted to the Arctic region, around the North Pole. Their populations are distributed as follows:

  • West of Alaska and Wrangel Island.
  • North of Alaska.
  • In the Canadian tundra (60% of polar bears live here).
  • In Greenland.
  • North of Russia.
  • In the Svalbard Archipelago and the Fritjof Nansen Archipelago, north of the European continent.

What do polar bears eat?

The polar bear tends to hunt marine mammals when they surface to breathe.

The polar bear has an almost exclusively carnivorous diet, interrupted only in the summer from the Arctic to eat a small portion of vegetables. Being the maximum predator of the region, it tends to hunt young and adults of other marine mammals, such as seals, and belugas, which they capture when they break the ice to come up to breathe, or the eventual young and defenseless walrus.

They can also feed on fish, or on the eggs and young of seabirds, and even on food leftovers from human colonies. Polar bears do not eat WaterRather, they obtain it from the bodily fluids of their prey, since in the Arctic the water is salty and acidic.And in conditions of scarcity, they can resort to cannibalism.

How do polar bears reproduce?

The lactation time of the puppies lasts approximately five months.

The mating period is the only time of year that polar bears are friendly with each other, despite the fact that fights between males for access to the female are common. Like all higher animals, its reproduction is sexual and through fertilization internal, although the fertilization of the ovule of the female occurs in a delayed manner, almost four months after copulation with the male.

This allows the female to store as much fat as possible to bear without eating, not only during childbirth, in which she usually gives birth to one or two puppies, but during lactation time, which lasts for about five months. about.

How long do polar bears live?

The period of life of polar bears can reach a maximum of 30 years.

Is the polar bear in danger of extinction?

Global warming is destroying polar bear habitat.

Currently, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the polar bear is registered as a species in a vulnerable conservation situation (VU), that is, its communities are under threat, but not in immediate danger of extinction.

The total number of polar bears in the last 45 years has fallen by at least 30%, touching a population estimated between 20,000 and 25,000 individuals, due to indiscriminate hunting, to the point that hunting is prohibited in many countries.

However, the greatest risk to polar bears is represented by pollution human. Its impact not only creates the presence of harmful substances in Arctic ice, but also the global warming, which has been melting the ice and, therefore, reducing the solid surface available for the polar bear to inhabit.

The melting of the ice earlier each year means that the females, after mating, do not have enough time to accumulate their fat stores, which has caused a 15% drop in the polar bear birth rate.

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