What do polar bears eat?

Life can be tough in the arctic, with extreme temperatures and scarce landscapes, few animals are tough enough to survive. So how does the almighty polar bear do it, and what does he feed on in such a drastic habitat…

Ringed seals

Seals make up most of a polar bear’s diet since there are millions residing in the Arctic. They are full of caloric blubber that mature bears need, while younger bears feast on the protein-rich red meat. Juveniles that haven’t mastered hunting will scavenge on carcasses for vital sustenance.

Ringed seals

Bearded seals

Unlike the much smaller ringed seal, the bearded variety is almost as big as a polar bear. It’s believed that only a mature male is a match for this blubbery beast, but the payoff in nutrition is equally huge. Walruses can also be on the menu, but their tusks deter most bears.

Bearded seals

Beluga whales

These creatures are tricky to capture, measuring four metres and weighing one ton, so they’re a huge prize for any bear. However, bears stand a good chance if a beluga whale becomes trapped in the ice, as it can only hold its breath for 20 minutes. The bears simply wait for the whale to surface.

Beluga whales

Birds’ eggs and vegetation

Polar bears have been photographed scaling near-vertical cliffs to feast on thick-billed murre chicks and eggs. Researchers suggest that bears are probably looking for alternative food sources when the sea ice melts in the summer months. They are easy prey and provide a high-calorie snack.Birds’ eggs and vegetation

Have you seen the polar bear edition?

World of animals issue 13 polar bears

Learn everything there is to about the extraordinary masters of the frozen planet in Issue 13 of World of Animals.

Order your copy here for just £3.99 or download a digital version and get a free sample issue on iTunes or Google Play.