- The Animal Encyclopedia for Kids

Polar Bear

Polar Bear Facts

Size Up to 10.1 ft (3.1 m) long
Speed Up to 24.8 mph (40 km/h) (short distances, on land)
Weight Up to 1,984 lb (900 kg)
Lifespan 20-30 years
Food Seals, salmon, lemmings
Predators -
Habitat Arctic region
Order Carnivore
Family Bears
Scientific name Ursus maritimus
Characteristics White fur, webbings

Main Characteristics

The polar bear is one of the biggest bears in the world. Only the brown bear and the Kodiak bear in Alaska reach a similar size.

Anatomy and Appearance

Actually, the Polar Bear Isn't White

Although the coat of the polar bear appears to be white, its hairs are actually transparent and hollow inside. There is a good reason for this: The warmth of the sunlight can directly reach the skin, which is actually black to optimally absorb the heat. To clean their coat, polar bears simply wallow in the snow.

Senses and Abilities

Do Polar Beards Have a Good Sense of Smell?

Polar bears can smell seals, even if the are still 20 miles (32 km) away.

Polar Bear Polar Bear - Photo: Sylvie Bouchard/Shutterstock


Are Polar Bears Good Swimmers?

Polar Bears aren't very fast, but strong swimmers. In the water they only reach speeds of 6 mph (10 km/h), but they are able to cover distances of 62 miles (100 km) without pausing.

Do Polar Bears Live in Caves?

Many people think that polar bears live in caves. Yet, only female polar bears withdraw into caves to give birth to and protect their babies.

Do Polar Bears Sweat?

In the Arctic, temperatures range from -58 degrees Fahrenheit (-50 degrees Celsius) (winter) to sometimes 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius) (summer). During the winter, the coat with hairs up to 30 cm long keeps the bear cozily warm. Yet, during the Arctic summer, the animals have to cool down from time to time.

To achieve this, they lie down in the snow or on the ice on their backs and lift their feet up in the air. This allows them to cool down the largest possible part of their body surface. They lie down again and again, even when only walking short distances. Sometimes they even jump into the icy (!) waters to refresh themselves.

Polar Bear Polar Bear - Photo: FloridaStock/Shutterstock


After the mating season it takes about eight months until the little polar bear babies come into the world. About one month before giving birth, the female polar bear digs a cave as a retreat. Normally there are one to four bears weighing about 1.1 lb (0.5 kg) at birth. At first they are still blind and deaf. After 4 months they are ready to leave their cave.

Two Birds With One Stone ...

Female polar bears combine their pregnancy with their winter rest.

Polar Bear Polar Bear - Photo: FloridaStock/Shutterstock

Fun Facts

All polar bears are "left-pawed".

The Polar Bear Is Related To:

Animals in the Same Biome:

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