While adaptations such as white fur and shorted limbs may be well known to most us, let us take a look at a few of the lesser known characteristics of the life of those bears.
One of the most fascinating behavioral adaptations is associated with hunting. When the mother polar bear hunts, the baby bears will freeze at a motion-less position in order to not frighten off any possible prey the mother bear may be hunting. If the baby bears move, the mother bear will subject them with a quick slap to the head.
Only the pregnant female bears hibernate. Though hibernating females sleep soundly, they are easily and quickly awakened. The female bear’s heart rate will slow down to as little as 27 beats per minute from her usual rate of roughly 46 beats per minute. Most bears hibernate, nevertheless polar bears are the only bears which could give birth while hibernating.
Fur The cubs, when born, look bald nevertheless they do infact have hair it is only that their hair is extremely fine, providing them a bald look. One of the most surprising facts about the bears is their hair isn’t white at all! A polar bear’s fur only reflects light. The hair is truly hollow, reflecting the snow in their environment, the hollow hair also traps the sun’s heat to help keep the bear warm. Their hair can also be oily which permits them to shake of excess water after swimming.
All polar bears have padded paws with rough surfaces on their base. The rough surface of the pads help the bears to walk on ice and snow without slipping over. Their wide paws are also helpful for swimming. Their front paws are utilised to propel them through the water while the back legs and paws are used to steer. Another use they make of the paws is to pay their muzzle (nose) when resting in order to conserve body heat. Their legs and paws are so powerful they can kill prey with a single blow.
Swimming The can swim at a average rate of 6 mph. That equates to approximately 4.7 mph. So even the world’s fastest human swimmers would struggle to escape out of a swimming polar bear! Not only that but they can cover a distance of 100 miles ( 161 km ) in one swim.
One of the saddest facts about these bears is that several of them starve to death. Polar bears can live to about 25 years old however 70ï1/4…of all polar bears don’t live to see their third birthday. There are a number of factors which contribute to the beginning statistic include lack of the primary food source – seals, pollution and oil spills from mining and an increasing loss of habitat. If you feel concerned about the welfare and future of the polar bear I encourage you to get in contact with your local wildlife protection agency to see how you can best contribute to saving this magnificent creature. A world without polar bears are a cold world really.