Do Polar Bears Eat Penguins?

Polar bears live in Arctic whereas penguins live in Antarctica. Since both these species live on opposite ends of the world it just cannot happen. Polar bears and penguins are never connected as food chain. Penguins are also found in some other areas south of the equator. Penguins never swim in Arctic waters as they find it hard to go across warm water and they seem to be happy where they live.

Do Polar Bears Eat Penguins?

It goes without saying that polar bears would surely eat penguins if they are readily available in their habitats. Had penguins been found in arctic polar bears would have definitely gone for it. These bears are strong swimmers as they can paddle as far as 15 miles (24 kilometers). They are also known to swim hundreds of miles in calm waters. They would have easily caught penguins. This is because polar bears are opportunistic feeders.

Moreover, penguins would have provided polar bears with cheap protein for a year or two until their numbers reach to a point that they could not survive. Polar bears had to survive for 3 – 4 months without food. Therefore even if penguins are living in Arctic bears had to eat seal blubbers which could provide them enough energy.

These bears however love to feast on blubber of bearded and ringed seals. These blubbers are essential part of bear’s diet as it provides them enough energy to survive.

Prominent among the kills is ringed seals which make up 75% of polar bear’s diet. Bearded seals make 20%; hooded seals 8%; whereas harp seals up to 50% of bear’s diet.

Adult polar bears have a more varied diet and they rely on walrus and bearded seals. In the peak hunting seas, polar bears kill one seal after every 5 days. This is a period from March to the end of June. On an average it kills 43 ringed seals each year.

do polar bears eat penguinsPolar bears are able to eat up to 20% of its body weight in one go. Once they kill bearded seals, they tear down their skin first to eat the blubber. Blubber is the best part of seals.

If a polar bear can hold 20% of its weight in his stomach it means that a 450 kg polar bear can eat 90 kg of seal blubber in a single meal. According to another study, they can also eat 10% of their weight within 30 minutes.

They leave the skin, viscera, and muscle behind. They will consume 60 – 90% of ringed seals. However, they also need to eat snow to excrete nitrogen after eating meat.

Polar bears have long been involved in hunting ringed seals since their first arrival in Arctic thousands of year ago. Seals were present everywhere in the Arctic Ocean when other food could not be found easily. This might have forced bears to change toward a carnivorous diet.

They are programmed to hunt seals in the frozen pack ice. They are excellent hunters and have an amazing sense of smell. Polar bears can smell a seal that is hidden 3 feet under the snow from a mile away.


A professional writer and a passionate wildlife enthusiast, who is mostly found hooked to his laptop or in libraries researching about the wildlife.

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