Polar Bears

Polar Bears

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Habitat
Polar bears prefer to live in extremely cold artic climates. They live only in the Northern Hemisphere, on the arctic ice cap, and they spend most of their time on coastal areas. Polar bears are widely spread in Canada, extending from the northern arctic islands south to the Hudson Bay area. They are also found in Greenland, on islands off the shore of Norway, on the northern coast of the former Soviet Union, and on the northern and northwestern coasts of Alaska in the United States.

Physical Features
The polar bear is one the largest members of the bear family. Males Polar Bears stand from eight to 11 feet tall and generally weigh from 500 to 1,000 pounds, but can weigh as much as 1,400 pounds. Female bears generally stand eight feet tall and weigh 400 to 600 pounds, except some, which can reach 700 pounds. The reason the polar bear weighs so much is that is stores about a four-inch layer of fat to keep it warm.
The polar bear has a long, narrower head and nose, and small ears. The polar bear has coat that appears white but, each individual hair is actually a clear and hollow. This helps the polar bear keep warm. The polar bear's coat helps it blend in with its snowy surroundings, this adaptation helps the Polar Bear hide while hunting. The polar bear's front legs are slightly pigeon-toed, and fur covers the bottoms of its paws. These adaptations help the polar bear keep them from slipping on ice.

Diet
The polar bear rarely eats plants. That is why it is considered a carnivore, or meat-eater. The ringed seal is the polar bear's primary prey. A polar bear hunts a seal by waiting quietly for it to emerge from an opening a seal makes in the ice allowing them to breathe or climb out of the water to rest. Polar bears eat only the seal's skin and blubber of the seal. The remaining meat provides a food source for other animals in the Arctic.
Polar bears also prey on young walrus’s. The remains of whale, seal, and walrus are also important sources of food for polar bears. In fact, because of their acute sense of smell, polar bears can sense animal remains from far away.



Breeding
Breeding usually takes place in April to June. Polar bears reach breeding maturity at three to five years of age.

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Though female bears usually have their fist litter at age 6. Adult female polar bears breed only every third year because of this male bears can travel large distances in search of mates. A pregnant polar bear carries her young for 195 to 265 days.

Number of Offspring
Polar bears can have one to four cubs but they usually have two. The cubs are born in December or January. When the cubs first arrive, they are hairless, blind, and no bigger than rats. However, the cubs grow rapidly from the milk provided by their mother.

Life Span
     Polar bears live to about 25 years of age. They spend the two ½ years in a immature state with their mother. Then they venture out on their own where they live by themselves. At age five or six they start mating. They then do this for the rest of there life.
Behavior
Polar Bears are solitary animals. There are two exceptions to this they are, when a mother polar bears have cubs and during mating season. Polar bears are in active most of their life they spend their time either sleeping or lying around. The rest of the time is spent traveling, hunting, or eating. After eating a bear will clean itself by rinsing and licking their fur.
Population
     Today it is estimated that there are about 28,000 polar bears worldwide. Most of the population is located in Canada and the Soviet Union. The rest of it is in Greenland and Norway.
As soon as spring comes, the mother bear leads her cubs to the coast along the open sea, where seals and walrus are abundant. The mother will fiercely protect her cubs from any perceived danger. The cubs remain with their mother for 2 1/2 years. Because of this, most adult female polar bears breed only every third year.

Classification
Kingdom: Animilia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Camivora
Family: Ursinae
Genus: Ursus
Species: Ursus maritimus
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