Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus)

Fun Fact: A polar bear spirit animal embodies the symbols of perseverance and gratitude. (It also symbolizes acceptance, surrender, and invisibility.) 

Scientific Classification:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Ursidae

Genus: Ursus

Species: maritimus


Body and Skeletal Structure:

polar-bear-body
Most bears eat some plant matter, but where polar bears live, they have adapted to a totally carnivorous lifestyle.

polar-bear-body-2polar-bear-skeleton


Description:

Size:

Polar bears can range from being 5 to 10 ft (1.5-3 m) in length. As for height, they can reach up to 5.3 ft (1.6 m) at the shoulder. Female polar bears typically weigh from 330 to 650 lbs (150-294 kg), while males range from 700 to 1,200 lbs (317-544 kg). Overall, males are typically the bigger and heavier bunch.

Fun Fact: Bears can weigh 50% more after a successful hunting season than they do at the start of one. 

Fur:

Polar bears have an outer coat of long guard hairs (which stick together when wet) that protects a dense & thick undercoat from the cold conditions in which they live. They typically appear white-furred to the eye. However the “white hairs” on the bear are really clear, hollow tubes.

Diet:

This species of bear is carnivorous, meaning it eats other animals for their meat. Their preferred and usual choices of prey are ringed seals and bearded seals. However, they are known to eat walruses, whales, belugas, and birds’ eggs too.

Typical Lifespan:

In the wild, polar bears can live to be 30 years old, but the average lifespan is below 25 years.

Fun Fact: Ursus maritimus means “sea bear.”


Reproduction:

Mating Season: Late Spring: March~Mid-July (True gestation doesn’t start until fall though.)

True Gestation Period: About 60 days (If including “untrue” gestation, before actual implantation, it can last 6.5-7.1 months, starting in the spring.)

Litter Size: 1-4 cubs (Average amount: 1-2 cubs)

Fun Fact: A newborn polar bear weighs only about 1.5 lbs (680 g ).


Communication and Behavior:

Polar bears, like most animals, communicate through body language, vocalizations, and scent markings. For example, when a polar bear wants to play, it may wag its head from side to side. Nose-to-nose greetings are usually used as a way to “ask” another bear for something. Cuffing sounds are used, often by mother bears, to express stress and occasionally scold young cubs. Signs of an aggressive stance usually include hissing, snorting, and a lowered head. Loud growls and roars typically communicate anger. As a way to protect their food source, a bear may let out deep growls to the opposing bear. When bears attack, they charge forward with their ears laid back and head down. Polar bears tend to move downwind of dominant polar bears as a sign of submissiveness. As for the bear cubs, they make a variety of sounds when communicating with their mothers: hums, groans, cries, and many more. Despite their various vocalizations, polar bears are fairly quiet animals and, except for females with their cubs, are typically solitary.

Fun Fact: Unlike brown bears and back bears, polar bears do not hibernate.


Habitat and Range:

Polar bears live throughout the arctic where they depend on sea ice, and there’s snow and plenty of ocean water.

polar-bear-range


Conservation Status:

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Polar bears are currently at a vulnerable status that is in danger of becoming worse. Climate change is one factor that plays in their endangerment. Polar bears are also jeopardized by record-breaking sea ice (that these bears live and rely on) losses and increasing industrial-scale human activity.


Resources:

Polar Bear | Wikipedia

Polar Bear Symbolism & Meaning

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

Polar Bear | Species | WWF

Polar Bears International

Polar Bear | Defenders of Wildlife

Polar Bear | National Wildlife Federation

Polar Bear | San Diego Zoo Animals & Plants

 

 

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