Special Report

They’re Not Really White and 19 Other Fascinating Facts About Polar Bears

Source: HenriVdl / Getty Images

Their natural habitat range includes portions of five countries.

These countries are Canada, the United States (Alaska), Denmark (Greenland), Norway, and Russia. Polar bears are found in areas of these countries that surround the Arctic Circle, representing three continents — North America, Europe, and Asia (far eastern Russia in the latter case).

Source: Ansgar Walk / Wikimedia Commons

More than half of the world’s polar bears are Canadian.

Some 13 of the 19 sub-populations identified by scientists are found in Canada. These account for 60% of the total global polar bear population.

Source: paszczak000 / Flickr

They have been known to visit Iceland, which doesn’t end well for them.

Polar bears aren’t native to Iceland, but over the centuries at least 500 documented references to them have been published. The animals apparently float over on icebergs from eastern Greenland. In 2008, a working group established by Iceland’s environment minister decided that the intruders should be killed, citing three arguments: they pose a threat to humans and livestock; they come from an area with healthy polar bear stocks that can withstand the loss of a bear now and then; and the cost of rescuing one could be as much as $85,000.

Source: VictoriaJStokes / Getty Images

Their favorite food is seal.

It is estimated that polar bears spend about half their time hunting for food. Though they have a predilection for ringed and bearded seals — seals have a high fat content, which the bears need for survival — they’ll also eat other varieties of seals, whales, walruses, reindeer, small rodents, fish, and human garbage, among other things.

Source: Cheryl Ramalho / Getty Images

Sometimes they’re cannibals.

In the summer and fall, when seals spend more time in the water or in areas beyond the reach of polar bears, the bears sometimes resort to cannibalism — typically with large adult males eating cubs or smaller bears. Some scientists believe that the decline in sea ice due to climate change will only make the practice more widespread.

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.