Thursday, January 21, 2010
10 Facts About Polar Bears
1. The Polar Bear is the largest land carnivore on the planet. Although the Kodiak brown bear is sometimes just as big, the Polar Bear on average reaches larger sizes. The largest Polar Bear we know of weighed over 1000 kilograms.
2. Polar Bears are the top of the Arctic food chain and don't have any natural predators. Its main threat is from the melting icecaps due to global warming and human poaching.
3. The Polar Bear is an excellent swimmer. The blubber that covers the bear is about 10cm thick and helps them float as well as keeping them warm. Its paws are very large, up to 30 cm in diameter, and very strong, enabling them to swim large distances. Distances of more than 100 km are not unusual. It can also dive about 6 meters and hold its breath for 2 minutes. A bear swims faster (10kph) than it walks (9kph).
4. Newly born baby cubs are about 30cm long and weigh less than a kilogram and cannot see. They are totally dependent on their mother's warmth and protection in the den. When they leave the den they weigh up to 15kg.
5. The Polar Bear has two layers of fur. The upper layer of Polar Bear fur is not actually white but translucent and hollow, it only appears white or yellow due to the reflections from the sun.
6. Polar Bears are extremely well insulated by their blubber and fur so they experience almost no heat loss. So much so, in fact, that if they run too much or exert themselves for too long they can overheat.
7. Polar Bears have an excellent sense of smell. They can smell food up to 2km away and can smell prey even if it is buried under 1 meter of snow.
8. The Polar Bear's large paws help it distribute its weight on thin ice and help them walk easily over soft snow. The paw pads are covered with tiny bumps that help with grip. The hairs and claws also stop the bear slipping when crossing slippery terrain.
9. Polar bear skin is actually black, the only place this can be seen is on the pads of their feet, the nose and the inside of their ears. The black colour is best for absorbing the heat from the sun.
10. Polar Bears are not territorial and are patient hunters; they have been known to wait many hours until a seal comes up to breath. The polar bear does not drink because it gets all its liquids from what it eats.
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