Polar Bear Facts

Polar Bear Facts

Polar bear fact # 1
One common misunderstanding about polar bears is that penguins form a major part of their natural diet. The true polar bear fact is however that polar bears never encounter penguins in their natural habitat, since polar bears inhabit the Arctic. Penguins on the other hand are only found in the Southern hemisphere. The three penguin species that lives in the tropics can occasionally cross into the Northern hemisphere while feeding, but they still stay close to the equator.

Polar bear fact # 2
A second interesting polar bear fact is that these bears are the biggest land predators in the world. An adult male polar bear will typically weigh between 250 and 770 kg (550 and 1,700 lbs) and grow up to 2.5 - 3 meters (8 - 10 feet) in height. The females are smaller, but still grow up to 1.8 - 2.5 meters (6 - 8 feet) tall and weigh around 90 - 320 kg (200 to 700 lbs). The polar bears are apex predators and only have to fear humans and other polar bears. Cannibalism is uncommon in polar bears, but it does happen. Polar bears will also feed on carcass from any species, including their own. 

Polar bear facts # 3
A polar bear fact that could possibly have saved several artic explorers from being poisoned if they would have known about it is that the polar bear liver contains extremely high amounts of Vitamin A. Fish eating animals such as seals contain a lot of vitamin A, and since the polar bear is found at the top of the Arctic food chain, its liver will store enough vitamin A to kill a human. A vitamin A “overdose” is formally known as hypervitaminosis A, and the acute symptoms include drowsiness, headache, nausea and vomiting, and irritability. The skin can start to peel of and you can loose your hair. High doses of vitamin A are lethal. The vitamin A in the liver of a polar bear liver is in the form of retinol, and testing have shown retinol amounts up to 30,000 IU/gram. This can be compared to cow liver, which is considered a rich source of vitamin A. The amount of retinol in the liver of a polar bear is more than 45 times the levels found in the liver of a cow. Polar meat can however be eaten, since the vitamin A is stored in the liver. (As of 2006, the polar bear is included in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, so don’t expect finding polar bear meat at your local restaurant.)

Polar bear facts # 4
The polar bear is a highly carnivorous species, especially compared to other bear species. If the polar bear manages to find berries and roots during the Arctic summer and autumn, it will however gladly consume them. Another quite unknown polar bear fact is that this bear sometimes feed on kelp.

Polar bear fact # 5
A very important polar bear fact to keep in mind is that these animals can be dangerous to humans, especially if stressed or harassed. If you spot a polar bear, you should therefore never approach it. The polar bear is a curios opportunistic predator, and might very well consider you suitable prey even if you do not disturb it. In some parts of the world, the inhabitants always carry rifles for protection when venturing into the wild since they might encounter a polar bear. If you see a polar bear, the best course of action is to slowly and quietly retreat indoors or to a vehicle. Keep in mind that if you spread garbage in a polar bear habitat, you might attract hungry polar bear. The garbage dump in Churchill, Manitoba in Canada is for instance visited by polar bears looking for food.

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