Illustrated Polar Bear Facts for Kids

February 24, 2017

Illustrated Polar Bear Facts for Kids


Living in the Arctic

Polar bears live on the ice covered seas of the Arctic and are specially adapted to survive in the extreme conditions there. Winter temperatures can drop to -50 F! They have a lot of interesting features that help them thrive in this harsh wilderness of ice.
Polar Bear drawing

  • Thick layer of insulating fat - keeps polar bears warm, especially in the Arctic waters
  • Black skin (it is an incorrect myth that polar bears use their black skin to absorb sunlight and stay warm)
  • Two layers of fur specially adapted for Arctic winters
  • Fur is colorless, translucent, and hollow. The hairs reflect light which makes the fur appear white, camouflaging it in the snow.
  • Oily, water repellent fur coat

    polar bear illustrated facts

 

  • Polar bears are very large! On all fours they are about 7 or 8 feet long. Males are larger than females. 
  • Male Polar bears stand about 10 feet tall on their hind legs
  • Males weigh up to 1500 pounds, sometimes more.
  • Females usually weigh up to 650 pounds.

polar bear facts
  • Small round ears, low on the head, help reduce heat loss
  • Inside of ears are lined with fur
  • Excellent sense of smell - can smell prey and food several miles away
  • Good eyesight, adapted for the extremes of the Arctic
  • Polar Bears have an extra set of eyelids to filter bright snow glare, good night vision to hunt in the long dark hours of the Arctic winters, and good underwater vision.

polar bear paw
  • Large flat paws act as snowshoes and help distribute weight on ice and snow
  • Rough paw pad texture helps keep traction on ice
  • Strong claws (almost 2 inches long). Used to catch prey and added traction on ice
  • Slightly webbed paws aid in swimming

Polar Bear Plunge

 

polar bear swimming illustration
Polar bears are excellent swimmers. With powerful arms and shoulders and a streamlined shape they can swim great distances and are quite at home in the water.

  • Uses its front arms to paddle and back legs to steer
  • An extra set of protective, clear eyelids (called nictitating membranes) help polar bears see well underwater - like a pair of goggles!
  • Ear canals and nostrils close while diving and swimming underwater
  • Longest recorded polar bear swim: 426 miles (687 kilometers)
    A female bear swam for 9 days straight and lost 22% of her body weight (the long swim was made because of melting sea ice)

 

Polar Bear Cubs


polar bear and cub

Polar bear cubs are born in the Winter months, November through January. They are born in snow dens. The mother digs the den in October and then hibernates. Often two cubs are born, but the size of a litter can range from 1 to 3 cubs. Polar bear cubs weigh around 1 pound at birth.
Cubs and mother emerge from their den in the Spring. The cubs stay with their mother about 2 years, sometimes into a third year, while she teaches them how to hunt, swim, dig, find shelter, and all the other important skills necessary to survive.


polar bear cub and mother art

 

Hunting and Eating

Polar bears are so protected from the cold that they can easily overheat. It takes a lot of energy for them to move fast so they usually amble along in a distinctive, easy pace. They can sprint up to 40 mph for short periods of time.

They prefer to ambush their prey from a still position, which is most often seals. They commonly hunt for seals by waiting by breathing holes in the sea ice.

Polar bears of the most carnivorous of the bears. They mostly rely on seal blubber. They also eat kelp, grasses, belugas, walruses, carrion (such as beached whales), lemmings, eggs, and will scavenge for garbage if nearby towns.

Unlike other bears, polar bears do not hibernate - they hunt year round (with the exception of pregnant females).


Sources
Alaska Wilderness League
North American Bear Center
Polar Bears International
National Wildlife Federation
National Geographic News
Great Bear Almanac by Gary Brown


Read More Illustrated Animal Facts


Polar Bear art prints and cards in the shop

polar bear art prints

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1 Response

Janie Kemp
Janie Kemp

March 11, 2017

I LOVE your drawings, especially these polar bears and your little puffins. Oh, I just cannot pick a couple for favorites, I love them all!

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