Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wild World Wednesday ~ the Polar Bear

We live in a wild world. Today we're visiting the frosty shores of the Arctic to take a peek at the polar bear. This mighty beast has loads to look at, so let's get started.

Not So White
To help keep the polar bear warm in all that snowy weather, its hair and skin are unlike other animals. The individual hairs on a polar bear are hollow and its skin is black. These two features help the bear absorb and hold the heat from the sun keeping it toasty warm. In fact, the polar bear tends to overheat more than it is ever cold.

The polar bear may look white, but it actually isn't. Because their hair is hollow the sun shining on each individual hair is reflected back and gives the appearance of being white.

Wild World Fact...
...polar bears can range in color from white, to creamy yellow to brown depending on the season.

BIG Bear!

The polar big is the biggest of its species and also the largest land predator. Males can grow up to 2000 pounds (800 kilos) and 10 feet (3 m) in length, while the females are up to 600 pounds (270 kilos) and 6.5 feet (1.9 m) in length.

The polar bears feet are built snow-tough! It's paws have long sharp claws for grasping and are snowshoe-like in nature - the polar bear can actually walk on ice and snow that a human would fall through! The pads on this bear's feet also have small "grippers" called papillae (something like the bumps on your tongue), that create a friction between its paws and the icy ground.

Did you know the polar bear also has webbed toes? It's true. The polar bear spends much of its time in the water and these specially built paws allow the bear to keep afloat; they use their front paws to propel them and their back legs to steer. In fact, it can swim up to 100 miles (161 km) at a time at the speed of 6 miles per hour.

Wild World Fact...

...the polar bear's fur is oily and water repellent, so all it has to do is shake to dry.

Baby Bears
Before Mom polar bear is ready to have her young she will dig a deep den out of the snow. This den could be one room or have many chambers. The female polar bear will then give birth in November or December to 1-3 cubs. The cubs are very small when they are born, less than a kilogram (1-1.5 pounds), are blind and have very little fur. Mom bear will stay in the den nursing her young until they are about 3 months old. At this time she will break through the snow and ice that has covered the mouth of her chambers where they will then emerge as a family. And even though the babies are able to walk, they stay with mom for about 2 1/2 years, learning how to hunt and survive on their own.
Wild World Fact...

...Baby polar bears learn how to "freeze" when Mom is hunting. If they make a move, mom bear will whack them on the back of the head.

To learn more about our icy friend the polar bear, check out your library or visit a zoo or marina.

For more articles and a new story everyday, check out knowonder magazine for kids.  It's FREE and we even have an app!

1 comments:

Nicole Buckingham said...

My kids, okay and myself... well, we're gonna love this site, I just know it. Thanks for this.

Aloha,
Following ya from Friendship Fridays. We're riding the wave of life at localsugarhawaii.com and I'd love it if you'd join us for the sweet ride.

xo,
Nicole

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