Polar bears' 8 extraordinary abilities

The polar bear has adapted to the Arctic's harsh habitats. Polar bears adapt to harsh Arctic conditions. This section discusses 8 polar bear adaptations.


Polar bears live in the harsh Arctic, where few species can survive. Polar bears have two layers of fur to help them stay warm.

Surplus Fat

Polar bears have a warm coat of fat. This fat layer is 4 inches thick. Extra fat helps bears swim in Arctic water without freezing. Fat prevents water from penetrating.

Bear Claws

Large, curled claws assist polar bears forage and move on ice. Polar bears have 2-inch claws for hunting seals. Curved claws allow ice walking.

Slip-proof paw

Polar bears have slip-proof paw cushioning. It helps them walk on ice, like their bent claws. Polar bear papillae catch ice. Fur between their toes prevents slips.

Tails & Ears

Small, rounded tails and ears assist polar bears maintain heat. Small tails and ears assist polar bears control their body temperatures by preventing heat loss.


Polar bears are strong swimmers and divers. They can swim for hours and travel far. Their big paws operate as rudders and propellers in the freezing water.

Slow Movers

Slow polar bears overheat. Polar bears travel slowly because of this. Large animals move slowly, rest often, and swim to cool off.


Polar bears can sustain a body temperature of 98.6 F in temperatures as low as -34 F. This stops polar bears from freezing and overheating.

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