Polar Bear Behavior

Depends on the location polar bears have varied home ranges. Some bears seem to occupy as much as thousands of kilometers while others use only a few hundred square kilometers. They are thought to migrate each year in order to find food.

The population density ranges from one individual per 27 km­­­­­­­2 to one bear per 139 km2. Females make dens after every 50 square kilometers in the coast of Hudson Bay and Ontario.

polar bear behavior

Polar bears never defend their territories and their home ranges mostly overlap.

Like most other bears polar bear also spends solitary lifestyle. A mature male leaves the female soon after mating and plays no part in raising cubs.

Although quiet most of the time polar bears can produce sounds such as growling, champing teeth, huffing or throwing back their ears.

The entire social unit of the family consists of only mother and cubs. The father breaks up with the unit after mating. Male and female will only pair for as long as 14 days. It shows that bears become most social during the breeding season.

polar bear behavior
Polar bears engage in play-fight. Image Courtesy Natural Habitat Adventures

During ice-free months the adult males can also make one social group—consisting only of males. They will feed together and often engage in play fight. However males within the group are extremely tolerant of another group member. The social behavior rather becomes obvious in groups such as this.

Polar bears will also interact with brown or grizzly bears. The overlapping is indeed established by polar bear-grizzly hybrid in that the polar bear mates with the grizzly bear giving birth to grolar or pizzly bear. Other animals including arctic fox and common raven are also important species in the arctic’s ecosystem. Ice bears leave the remains of the seals which are ultimately consumed by the arctic fox and scavengers such as common ravens.

Polar bears are probably the only predators of polar bears. Mature males often kill cubs but sometimes walrus can also kill bears because they are too big to handle. Wolves can also eat polar bear cubs.

Females are thought to use maternity dens not only for hibernation or giving birth but also for nurturing them. The cubs will leave the den after they reach 3 months age. Polar bear is probably the only species that uses den for months. Other bears stay in den for few days only. During winter or ice-free months polar bears are likely to store energy while relaxing most of the time. In warmer months they stay in dens in order to avoid heat-stress.