Prominent among the family Ursidae is a polar bear that is adapted to a highly specialized semi-aquatic lifestyle. Although it is a bear yet it is listed as a marine mammal precisely due to the fact that it spends 50% of its life on ice floes and is able to swim as far as 90 km (60 miles).
How Long do Polar Bears Live in the Wild
As far as mortality rates and lifespans are concerned, all marine mammals have longer lifespans. Speaking mammals in general, lifespan is typically related to the size of species, the larger the mammal is the longer. However, in case of marine mammals the rule holds within the same family.
Read More: Polar Bear Life Cycle
Male and female polar bears live up to 29 and 32 years respectively while in captivity they have a lifespan of 40 years or more.
In the Arctic female polar bears give birth in between December and January in winter. The mother takes her cubs from the maternity dens in the late February or early March to the southern tip of Hudson Bay. In about a month she will also move to northerly latitudes in the High Arctic.
Read More: Polar Bear Facts For Kids
A female polar bear litters one or two cubs. She guards her young all the time especially against her male counterpart. Only one of two cubs are most likely to reach adulthood as raising two cubs at the same time is a challenging task for mother.
Read More: Polar Bear Den
Polar bears do not have potential predators but they are enemy for themselves. Sometimes when the food is scarce and male polar bears are starved for months, they kill their own cubs and eat them. This explains why most of them do not attain the maturity age.
The mother polar bear teaches her cubs how to hunt and how to swim in the arctic. Moreover, cubs also learn how to survive in the extreme climate of arctic. They become self-sufficient once they learn all these things from their mother.
Read More: Adaptations of Polar Bears
The polar bear cubs leave their mothers 2 – 3 years after their birth. They will now live their own and have to avoid any adult male that can possible kill them anytime. If they get close to male bears they attack and eat the cubs.
Read More: How Do Polar Bears Communicate?
Climate change and pollution are yet other causes of polar bears’ lifespans. As the climate changes, the ice floes on which bears usually hunt ringed seals, begin to melt down. This indeed pushes the bear either to hunt on land or to swim longer than before.
Learn more about Polar Bears: Polar Bear Facts for Kids