Polar Bear Diet: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

Polar bears are large animals that need to eat a lot of food to survive. Come learn about what polar bears like to eat, why they eat so much and some other interesting facts about their diet.

Hungry Hunters

Imagine being a seal in the Arctic. You enjoy spending your days swimming around in the cold water, hunting things like fish, squid and seabirds when you're hungry and even taking a nap in the water. Every now and then you even hop up on land to avoid being eaten by a shark. And although you made it to land and escaped the sharp teeth of the shark that was stalking you, you have another problem and don't even know it. A large, white furry bear is sitting very still, watching every move you make, waiting. If you're not careful, you'll become a snack for that sneaky polar bear!

Polar bears are the top hunters in their Arctic habitat. They can eat 10 to 20 percent of their entire body weight because they have a giant stomach and their body can use about 97 percent of the fat they eat.

Polar bear
Polar bear

Polar bears need fat to survive and can eat more than four pounds of it every day. But they can't go to the refrigerator and pull out a snack the way you do, and sometimes there isn't any food to eat for months! That's why they eat so much of it when it's available. Their body stores it, like a savings account, so they can use it when they need it but can't find a meal.

What's on the Polar Bear Menu?

Polar bears are carnivores, which means they eat mostly meat. One of their favorite meals is a seal, and especially their fat.

Polar bears like to eat bearded seals
Polar bears like to eat bearded seals

But though you may only like one or two kinds of pizza, polar bears aren't too picky about what kind of seals they snack on. Their favorite seals are ringed and bearded seals, but some of the other types of seals they eat are:

  • Harp seals
  • Hooded seals
  • Ribbon seals

One seal can give the polar bear several days of the energy they need. However, seals aren't the only animals on the polar bear's menu. If seals become scarce, polar bears will use their keen sense of smell to find carcasses, which are the dead bodies of animals, up to 20 miles away. Some of the carcasses that the polar bear may find and eat include:

  • Narwhals
  • Walruses
  • Whales
  • Muskox
  • Reindeer

Polar bear in a zoo eating meat
Polar bear in a zoo eating meat

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