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Do Polar Bears Eat Penguins?

If you know anything about polar bears, you probably know that they live in arctic regions throughout the world’s northern hemisphere.

You may be under the impression that polar bears also live near penguins and would naturally wonder if they like to prey on these little flightless birds.

Polar bears do not eat penguins. This is because while polar bears are confined to the northernmost arctic regions of the planet, penguins live in the southernmost areas or the Antarctic. Thus, penguins and polar bears do not live near each other, and polar bears can’t eat them.

So, if polar bears don’t prey on penguins, what do they eat?

And what’s the difference between the arctic and the Antarctic?

In this article, we’re going to explore these topics and more, so keep reading to learn everything you need to know about whether polar bears like to eat penguins or not.

What Do Polar Bears Eat?

polar bear hunting

Polar bears are primarily carnivores, so they mostly eat other animals for their required caloric intake.

The prey they most prefer to eat is the seal, and they like to hunt the ringed seal and bearded seal in particular.

These seal species belong to the group of seals known as “ice seals.” Ice seals are called such because they rely entirely on ice to give birth, nurse their young, rest, and find prey.

When hunting, polar bears will often lie in wait for long periods to catch a seal unaware.

They will wait at the seal’s breathing holes, which are cut into the ice using the claws under their flippers, and then when a seal comes up for air, that’s when the polar bear will strike.

Interestingly enough, they will typically only eat the seal’s skin and blubber, leaving most of the meat for other scavengers to pick over.

Polar bears will subsist entirely on seals if they can, but they may turn to find other food sources, so they don’t starve when they are scarce.

They will often eat walruses, whale carcasses, or garbage if they can’t find any seals to munch on. Like the others in my group of bears article, Polar bears are technically omnivorous, although they vastly prefer to eat meat and fat off their prey.

They will gladly feast on food scraps and other garbage left by humans under certain circumstances. However, this may be rare because they usually don’t live close enough to human settlements to enjoy garbage meals.

They may also catch other arctic animals when they can, such as foxes, arctic birds, or the carcasses of any animals left out after they’ve died.

Finally, they’ll also branch out to eat eggs or fish when they find them. Polar bears love to fish, but it can sometimes be difficult for them to find fish in the harsh cold climates of the arctic.

Given enough luck, they’ll often feast on whatever fish they can get their paws on, and this will usually include freshwater fish like salmon or trout during spawning seasons.

Where Do Polar Bears Live?

polar bear on iced water

Polar bears live in the arctic regions of the world, primarily found in Alaska (in the United States), the upper reaches of Canada, Greenland, Denmark, Norway, and Russia. They may also occasionally be found as far as Iceland.

Going back to the main question of this article, polar bears do not eat penguins simply because they don’t live near each other.

No penguins live in northern arctic regions, where polar bears natively inhabit. Penguins are confined almost entirely to the Antarctic, which is in the Southern Hemisphere and is close to as far away from the arctic as you can get.

Polar bears are suited to living in such cold climates due to their unique anatomy. They have thick fur and fat layers that can range from 2 inches to 4 inches thick, keeping them warm despite the arctic’s frigid wind and icy air.

They are also found in these areas because their prey is found. They couldn’t very well branch out to other parts of the world without their prey coming along, so they like to stick to the northern arctic regions to hunt.

These massive bears also spend much of their lives on the ice. This is why you may have heard that their habitats are being threatened with global warming. The less ice they have to live on, the less room they have to live and thrive.

[ RELATED ARTICLE: Do Bears Eat Deer? ]

What Do Polar Bears Look Like?

polar bear close up image

Polar bears are one of the easiest species of bear to identify, primarily because of their white fur.

They are characterized as one of the largest bear species, with a thick coat of white fur covering their entire bodies. They have black snouts and claws and range from 6 to 10 feet in length.

As far as weight goes, the polar bear can reach weights of up to 1500 pounds when fully grown and in good health.

These bears will typically only live for about 25 years each. Their large size is perfect for walking on ice, as their big paws help to spread their weight evenly over icy surfaces and prevent breaking through.

Compared to other species of bears, polar bears may appear to have elongated bodies and faces.

Final Thoughts

polar bear and cub in the snow

Polar bears are mighty arctic predators that exist mostly on seals when they can help but will also branch out to eat other prey when their favorite food is scarce.

Even though they don’t eat penguins, they prey on walruses, small arctic animals, arctic birds, and even garbage.

We hope the information we’ve outlined in this article has answered all your questions about whether or not polar bears eat penguins.

For more interesting animal facts, check out our mammal other articles!

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