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Ice Bear Facts

Ice Bear

Ice Bear (View larger version)

  • Polar bears live only in Arctic areas that surround the North Pole. In fact, the word arctic comes from the Greek word for bear, and Antarctic comes from the Greek meaning the opposite, without bear.

  • Polar bears are the world's largest non-aquatic predators.

  • The polar bear, Ursus maritimus, or the sea bear, evolved about 200,000 years ago from brown bear ancestors.

  • Nose-to-nose greetings are the way that a bear asks another bear for something, such as food. The guest bear will approach slowly, circle around a carcass, and then touch the other bear’s nose.

  • Hibernation. Polar bears do not over winter in dens like brown and black bears. Only pregnant females enter dens to give birth where they stay until the cubs are big enough to trek.

  • Most polar bears remain active throughout the year. They have the ability to reduce their metabolic rate when food is scarce and adjust it again when food is abundant.

  • An example of this are the polar bears that come ashore after the ice melts in Hudson Bay each summer. These bears have no food source and enter a state scientists call walking hibernation. Polar bears in this state appear to maintain normal body temperature but are able to save energy by reducing their metabolic rate and recycling proteins.

  • They’re excellent swimmers. In fact, they spend so much time in the water that some scientists prefer to classify them as marine mammals. Because their front paws have webbed toes, polar bears are able to paddle better through the water, generating enough momentum to swim for up to 70 miles at a stretch. The webbed toes, along with rough padded feet, are also essential to prevent slipping on the ice.

  • Polar Bears are obsessive about keeping clean. Following mealtime, they will spend 15-20 minutes grooming themselves, making sure there is no dirt or residue left on them that may interfere with the insulating properties of their fur.

  • Humans are the only species that preys on polar bears.

  • Baby polar bears are born small, only about 12 inches long and weighing about 1 pound. They will stay with their mothers at least until they are nearly 2 years old, sometimes as old as 3 years in the coldest areas of their Arctic range.