Female Polar Bears
Female polar bears are smaller than their male counterpart.
Female polar bears also have other differences from the males. Like
all other mammals, the female polar bear is the one that gives birth to
the babies. When a female polar bear is pregnant, usually in the
fall she has different behaviors than the males. When the ice forms
on the water most polar bears head out in search of their favorite food,
seals. The exception being pregnant female polar bears.
Pregnant female polar bears do not go out on the pack ice and polynyas,
instead female polar bears begin to prepare for the birth of their cubs.
When all the other polar bears are heading off to the openness of the
ocean the pregnant female polar bears begin looking for a maternity den.
This maternity den is usually in a snow bank, or along an ice patch of
ocean shore. It is here that the female polar bear will go into a
hibernation type state. Female polar bears dig their own maternity
den. It is important the the female polar bears have fed enough in
the spring and summer before fall, because of the scarcity of food on land
when winter comes. While in the maternity den, the mother polar bear
will not eat, drink or defecate. The female polar bear will stay in the
maternity den and give birth to her cubs. Usually 1-3. A
female polar bear will typically have her first set of cubs at the age of
6, but it can be anywhere from 4 to 8 years. Polar bears have one of
the slowest reproductive cycle. with a female polar bear having about five
litters, or sets of cubs in their life.
The cubs are normally born in November or December. In the following
spring, the female polar bear will break through her one room maternity
den. She will emerge with her young, which are now able to follow
her around. The mother polar bear will nurse her cub up until the
age of 2 1/2. This is one of the reasons that the reproductive cycle
is slow. A female polar bear will not have two litters of cubs under
her care at the same time.