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Animal Of the Month August 02, 2005 5:33 PM

Polar Bear

The semi-aquatic polar bear was once considered to be nomadic, but has since been shown to have a very large home range — up to about 115 square miles (300 sq km).

Pregnant bears den in the winter, the others hunt.

Ringed seals are their preferred prey, but in winter, they will eat anything they can catch; in summer, they will eat leaves, berries, and seaweed.

They are able to fast for months, drawing on stored fat at any time of the year.

Their hairs are hollow, making for excellent insulators that are capable of trapping much of their radiating body heat.

Only the nose and eyes radiate heat, so they cover them with their paws when they sleep.

Animal Facts
Name: Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus)
Family: Ursidae (Bears)
Range: Above Arctic Circle, occasionally farther south
Habitat: Coastal regions and ice floes
Diet: Seals, walrus, sea birds, lemmings, birds' eggs, some vegetation, and carrion
Head and Body Length: 7 to 9 feet (2.2 to 2.8 m)
Tail Length: 3 to 5 inches (8 to 13 cm)
Shoulder Height: about 5 feet (1.5 m)
Weight: 660 to 1,540 pounds (300 to 700 kg)
Life Cycle: Mating April to May, implantation delayed until September to October; one to three cubs born in December
Description: Dense, creamy white coat; relatively small head; elongated neck; stocky, powerful build; black skin; broad forepaws
Conservation Status: Lower Risk (Conservation Dependent)
Major Threat: Habitat loss; poaching; pollution
What Can I Do?: Visit Polar Bears and for information on how you can help.

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