Polar bears are large bears that roam the icy Arctic regions in search of seals, their primary food source.
They are perfectly adapted to living in these environments and are formidable hunters. Although these bears do spend around half of their lives searching for food they have less than a 2% hunting success rate.
This is largely because it’s becoming more and more difficult for polar bears to hunt due to the ice caps melting and taking away their main advantage.
In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at how the polar bear regulated its temperature and specifically answer, are polar bears cold-blooded?
No, polar bears are warm-blooded animals which allows them to maintain their body temperatures even in the freezing cold arctic conditions. Their thick fur and layer of fat keep these bears insulated in even the coldest environments.
What Does Cold Blooded Mean?
Animals that cannot generate internal heat are known as poikilotherms, or cold-blooded animals.
This means they are unable to generate their own heat and rely on the sun and other outside factors to stay warm.
Cold-blooded animals include turtles, snakes, frogs, lizards, and many more. These animals can often be found lounging on rocks and sunbathing in order to heat themselves up.
An animal that is cold-blooded is known as ectothermic, which means that it regulates its internal temperature by exchanging heat with its surrounding environment.
Are Polar Bears Really Cold-Blooded?
When it comes to polar bears, they are warm-blooded animals. This means that they ARE able to regulate their own internal temperature and stay warmer than their environment.
This is crucial for polar bears as they live in the cold Arctic conditions, if they were cold-blooded and relied on their environment for heat, they would struggle to survive.
Winters in the Arctic regularly drop to around -40 degrees Fahrenheit, which is cold enough that many animals are simply unable to survive there.
However, the polar bear is a warm-blooded mammal that is able to maintain its own body temperature even in the coldest, most harsh conditions.
How Do Polar Bears Stay Warm?
Staying warm in the Arctic conditions is crucial for the polar bear’s survival. The conditions they live in are some of the harshest on the planet, so they need to stay warm as they do not hibernate.
Even their cousin the Grizzly bear could not survive life in the Arctic. Below are four ways in which polar bears stay warm in their habitats;
Firstly, polar bears have thick, translucent fur that is roughly 15cm thick. They have two layers of fur with the first being a ‘guard layer’ and the second being a dense undercoat.
A polar bear’s fur is crucial in keeping them warm in the harsh Arctic conditions as it helps to trap a layer of warm air close to their skin and helps with thermal conduction.
Healthy polar bears have a thick layer of fat that is essential in helping them to regulate their body temperatures.
The average polar bear will have around 4-inches (11cm) of fat around its body which helps to trap heat and keep them insulated from the cold.
They are one of the fattest land mammals on earth and have this fat solely to help them stay warm and regulate their temperature.
Another way polar bears regulate their body temperatures is through their skin. Contrary to what many believe polar bears actually have black skin.
This black skin is supposedly beneficial and allows the bear to absorb invisible infrared rays and traps body heat.
Their black skin absorbs a lot of light thanks to their translucent fur and helps them to stay warm in even the harshest weather.
A polar bear’s body uses a process called non-shivering thermogenesis which essentially produces heat instead of energy.
When we humans are cold, our bodies will convert food into energy and then this can be used to move muscles and “shiver” to help keep us warm.
Polar bears don’t need to do this, instead, they turn food straight into heat and skip the shivering part out, allowing them to stay nice and toasty in the cold.
Are Polar Bears Ectotherms?
An ectotherm is defined as an animal that is dependent on external sources for body heat. A polar bear is not an ectotherm and is instead an endotherm.
Polar bears are endotherms because they are able to regulate their own body temperatures and generate their own heat from within.
They do not rely on outside factors for heat such as many reptiles, frogs, snakes, etc.
Do Polar Bears Get Cold?
Thanks to special adaptations polar bears are able to withstand the freezing temperatures of the Arctic and stay warm in temperatures as low as -50° Fahrenheit.
These remarkable bears are perfectly adapted to cold climates. They are large bears that don’t lose much heat from their skin due to a high ratio of volume to surface area.
They also have small ears and tails but particularly large furry feet that help them minimize heat loss.
Their fur is incredibly thick and double-coated, much like that of a Husky dog or Newfoundland. It’s no secret that these animals are perfectly adapted to cold weather, and therefore rarely feel the cold.
So, are polar bears cold blooded? No, they are warm-blooded animals that are able to regulate their own body temperatures to keep them toasty warm even in the harshest of conditions.
Polar bears have adapted and evolved from their brown bear cousins to live and thrive in freezing cold conditions.
They have a number of special adaptations such as black skin, thick fur, and the ability to thermoregulate which keeps them warm.
Hopefully, this post has been insightful and you’ve learned something new today about how the polar bear stays warm and why they are not cold-blooded animals.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post and feel free to share it with other polar bear lovers who may find this post interesting.
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Hi, I’m George – the founder of MarinePatch. I created this blog as marine wildlife has been my passion for many years and I’ve spent decades learning and dedicating myself to documenting all I can about the topic.