Polar bears are fascinating animals. Not only are they the world's largest land predators, but also one of the most enigmatic. Researchers believe that polar bears may be just as intelligent as apes, since they seem to be able to learn and modify behaviour to match their environmental challenges.
<b/>Here are 10 fun facts about polar bears:</b>
1. Despite what photos may tell you, polar bears are not white. The hair of a polar bear is actually transparent, made up of a thick hollow core that reflects light. As the light bounces on the air spaces between hairs, you see white, a reflection of all colors combined. This special feature of their hair has a double purpose: it helps them blend better with their environment and it insulates them from the cold and snow.
2. They’re excellent swimmers. In fact, they spend so much time in the water that some scientists prefer to classify them as marine mammals. Because their front paws have webbed toes, polar bears are able to paddle better through the water, generating enough momentum to swim for up to 70 miles at a stretch. The webbed toes, along with rough padded feet, are also essential to prevent slipping on the ice.
3. They are obsessive about keeping clean. Following mealtime, they will spend 15-20 minutes grooming themselves, making sure there is no dirt or residue left on them that may interfere with the insulating properties of their fur.
4. They don’t hibernate. Pregnant females will curl up in their dens and become less active, but polar bears in general will keep hunting and eating throughout the whole winter. While land bears hibernate, their body temperature drops to about 0C (32F). When polar bears sleep in winter, their body temperature never goes below 31C (88F).
5. Humans are the only species that preys on polar bears.
6. They are so well padded with fat and thick fur that they can overheat quickly, even in subzero temperatures. To prevent this, polar bears tend to walk slowly, avoid running and spend lots of hours lying down and resting.
7. There is a really big difference in size and weight between males and females. While males can reach up to 1500 pounds and 10 feet in length, females rarely exceed 600 pounds and average 6.5 feet in length.
8. They have been known to have tantrums. Experts have observed frustrated polar bears throwing chunks of ice, kicking piles of snow or growling in disappointment after losing prey they’ve been trying to catch.
9. They will slide down slopes or crawl on their stomachs if the ice is thin and at a risk of breaking.
10. Their main dietary staple is seal. While polar bears also eat fish and sometimes birds, the effort required to hunt burns too many calories for them to bother, so they only look for that type of prey when food is scarce.