Polar bear

(Ursus maritimus)

With the total length of the polar bear, also called 'ice bear', reaching up to three metres, it is one of the biggest land-based predators on Earth. It has no natural enemies in its home in the arctic and is a solitary animal that spends its time hunting for seals.



Coastlines and regions with packed ice

Seals, fish, small mammals, berries, fruits

20,000 to 25,000

2.50 m in length, shoulder height up to 1.60 m

Females 300 kg, males up to 600 kg

Brooding/gestation time:
In total 8 to 9 months
Of which there is a 2–3 month period between delayed implantation and birth.

Achievable age
approx. 41 years in human care

What you should know about polar bears

Polar bears are perfectly equipped for life in the Arctic. During times in which prey is in abundance, they develop a layer of fat reaching ten centimetres. This and the thick fur keeps the polar bears warm in icy temperatures of up to minus 50 degrees centigrade. In periods of hunger, for example in pregnancy and during the female lactation period, this layer of fat is also used as an energy storage.


Sluggish on shore – gallant in the water

Polar bears embark on extensive travels when searching for prey along the coast and on the packed ice. In the case of heavy exertion and whilst running, they are able to release excess body heat outwardly solely using their tongue, which is why they prefer to move more slowly. They are genuine long-distance swimmers under water since they use their broad paws with webbed toes like paddles.


Polar bear babies as small as guinea pigs

Expectant polar bear mothers hole themselves up in snow caves between November and January to give birth and nurse their offspring into the world. At birth, the young are bare, blind, deaf and are barely bigger than guinea pigs. The mothers only leave the caves with the little ones after three months. As the offsprings' weight increases to almost ten kilos, the female polar bears lose weight quickly and must feed on many seals to fill the mouths of the hungry bears with their milk for another seventeen months.


Is it true, that ...?

Is it really the case that female polar bears can delay their pregnancy? It is a fact that they can delay the implantation of the fertilized egg cell between April and June for up to half a year. If enough flab has been built up for the winter, then the gestation period of only two to three months begins.

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