Baby Polar Bear Cubs
- Baby polar bears are born in the shelter of the mother's den. After feeding all summer long to build up reserves her instincts tell her to build a her nest in the fall. Dens are normally dug by the mother's front and hind paws in snowdrifts or snow covered hills near the coast or in snow ridges.
- Despite the fact that they are built in the snow, the dens provide the cubs protection from the wind, cold, and predators. Most common predators are Arctic foxes and other polar bears, especially adult males. The den is warmer than the outside due to the heat generated by the bears. The snow traps air molecules and acts as insulation.
- Polar bear cubs spend the majority of their early childhood days in the safety of the den to stay warm and to bond with their mother. The cubs typically nurse for 12 to 18 weeks. However longer periods have been recorded depending on the number of siblings, season length, and factors in the environment that effect food sources.
- The mother's milk is very nutritious and the cubs grow rapidly in size and weight. A newborn baby is ready to eat solid food in just a few months. They grow their own new fur within approximately 8 to 10 weeks, although it can take up to 14 weeks. The cute pups begin to resemble their mother and will soon copy her habits.
- After about 3 or 4 months polar bear cubs venture outside the den with their mother. Combined with their instincts, they learn survival and hunting skills from their mother. The pups stay close to "mom" wherever she goes. Once they take their first dip in the ocean, they become acclimated to the water quickly and become good swimmers.
- Mother polar bears show their cubs how to stalk prey that is on the surface. They keep their heads low and blend with the snow drifts. They use stealth to follow their prey and then rapidly advance when the opportunity is right. Seals in particular are very vulnerable when they are cut off from their escape hole back in to the water. The baby polar bears observe and follow their mother during the hunt as they will have to do for themselves once they reach adulthood.
- The reproduction cycle of the female polar bear is only about every two or three years. Because of the long time period population growth is slow. The mother will expect her cubs to live on their own before the next cycle begins. Sometimes a little encouragement is necessary to graduate them to independence.
- Accurate information on adulthood survivability of baby polar bears is not readily available due to the difficulty in tracking cubs over their lifetime. Some surcome to starvation, predators, or interference with mankind.
Additional polar bear information page.