How Have Polar Bears Adapted to the Arctic?

Several adaptations have allowed polar bears to live in the Arctic, primarily their two thick layers of fur for insulation. With their thick fur, polar bears' metabolic rate and body temperature will not drop even when the temperature drops far below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Polar bears also have tiny ears and small tails that prevent them from losing body heat.

On especially cold and windy days, polar bears will dig shelters in the snow and sleep in tight balls to keep warm. They will also cover their warm muzzles with their hands as another way to keep themselves warm.

There are numerous adaptations that allow polar bears to swim in the frigid cold waters of the Arctic, including their thick layer of blubber. The front paws of a polar bear allow polar bears to swim doggy-paddle in the water, while their back legs are held straight and used as rudders.

Since polar bears have so much insulation, they have to move slowly on land and in the water to prevent themselves from overheating. Polar bears swim at approximately 6.2 mph and dive in the water to stalk and catch their prey. They spend so much time in the water for swimming, cooling down and catching prey that polar bears are considered to be marine mammals.