Polar Bear Predators: What Eats Polar Bears?

Polar bears have a few natural predators. Humans, Orcas, Arctic Wolves, Other Polar Bears (cannibalism), Wolverines, and Golden Eagles are at the top of this list. More importantly, polar bears occasionally encounter these predators. This is because they themselves are at the top of the Arctic food chain.

Do you know what the polar bears’ other predators are? What do you think is the greatest danger to these brave polar bears? Actually, this topic is designated to talk about a few enemies of polar bears. To learn everything about the predators of polar bears, delve into our insightful article. Happy reading!

What Are the Predators of Polar Bears?

Let’s see what the study by the SeaWorld organization discloses about the predators of polar bears. Here is a complete list of all the predators of polar bears:

1.  Humans

Humans come first if we talk about the biggest enemies of polar bears. Humans hunt, kill, and eat polar bears. We have been doing this for centuries. The body parts of polar bears are also used in medicine. Other parts, like fur, teeth, and claws, are used for many commercial purposes in various industries.

According to the report from the SeaWorld organization, most humans hunt polar bears for clothing, handicrafts, and meat. Many governments give permission to hunt Arctic bears, like Canada. Additionally, many countries, including some of Russia and Norway, have strict laws against killing. Humans also kill them out of fear or self-defense.

2. Polar Bears

polar bear

The second most dangerous predators and rivals of polar bears are polar bears themselves. You may be wondering how it comes. This is all because of the cannibalistic behavior of polar bears. If we talk about the most notorious species of bears, then they are “male polar bears”.

Male and adult polar bears eat their own cubs and other polar bears’ cubs. The cubs with an age of less than one year are the most targeted. Cannibalism is in their habits. This is not specific to male polar bears. Sometimes, females will prey on their cubs as well. However, this is not a common behavior.

Female polar bears only do this when they are starving so much that they could die if they do not eat their cubs. If cubs and female polar bears are available, then whom will the male polar bear hunt? The answer is the female polar bear. They have more nourishment than little cubs.

Here is a painful video of a helpless mother whose cub was killed by an aggressive male polar bear. She tried her best to save her kid’s life, but all her efforts went in vain.

Interesting Fun Fact

“As we have discussed before, male polar bears are double the size of female polar bears. So, it’s impossible for a male polar bear to hunt cubs from within the dens. So, they hunt those that enjoy them on the ice. Sometimes, females (half the size of males) become part of their prey. Mostly, females become victims of male polar bears in a fight between protecting their cubs and fighting for them too.”

3.  Arctic Wolves

Arctic wolves are the biggest predators of polar bear cubs. In the past, wolves were not naturally hunting cubs, but it’s their behavior now. The reports about wolves’ predatory behavior toward polar bear cubs are increasing day by day. This type of predatory behavior is mostly seen in July.

This is the time when polar bear cubs are mostly on land, instead of ice and in dens. Wolves’ primary food items include elk, deer, moose, and caribou. However, it is seen that these crazy animals have also added polar bear cubs as their primary prey items.

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4.  Killer Whales/Orcas

orca
Orca

Killer whales can eat any big animal. Their strength is: they hunt in groups of 20 to 100 orcas at once. The targeted prey do not have any choice but to fall prey to them. Similarly, polar bears also fear orcas.

Polar bear cubs are mostly snatched into the water as a portion of food by these killer whales. There are fewer chances that a mother leaves her cubs. But occasionally, they may get separated due to melting ice.

So, orcas take the opportunity of eating cubs. Dragging a polar bear cub into the water is so easy for killer whales. Also, adult and old-age polar bears avoid these killer whales at any cost.

5.  Arctic Foxes

arctic fox
Arctic Fox

Old and sick polar bears, and polar bear cubs also often fall prey to Arctic wolves, Arctic foxes, and other carnivorous animals in the Arctic. Arctic foxes do not pose any threat to fully grown or adult polar bears.

These animals are much smaller in size than polar bears. They scavenge on the remains or carcasses of polar bears because they are scavengers, not active predators of larger animals.

6.  Greenland Shark

According to a report in the year 2008, Greenland Shark eats the adult polar bear. This was reported because of the remains of an adult polar bear body inside the stomach of a Greenland Shark.

However, no evidence is found that the Greenland Shark killed the polar bear in any way and ate that. Or, it was just a carcass of an adult polar bear and the shark scavenged on the remains of a dead polar bear.

Why Are There A Few Predators of Polar Bears?

First of all, polar bears have a few predators in their icy Arctic habitats. Here are a few factors that contribute to few or zero predators of polar bears:

1. Harsh Environment

Polar bears have a tendency to live in the harsh and icy environment of the Arctic. They live in extremely cold temperatures, icy waters, and limited food resources. Only a few other animals are living in this type of environment. That’s why polar bears have fewer predators.

2. Predator-Prey Dynamics

As you know, polar bears primarily prey on seals, and seals are abundantly available in the Arctic. This means that Arctic bears have access to their favorite prey. This reduces their need to compete with other predators for food.

3. Avoidance and Isolation

Polar bears avoid predators and animals a lot! They don’t feel the need to encounter, confront, or quarrel with other potential predators in the Arctic. They simply avoid them. Also, the vast expanses of the Arctic limit the interaction of polar bears with their potential predators.

What Are Polar Bears Afraid of?

polar bear

Polar bears are afraid of nothing. They are naturally built as self-confident carnivorous mammals on the Earth. Generally speaking, they are big, heavy, tall, and strong. In fact, you can call them killing machines. They use their big and strong claws to crippe any creature and dig the icy habitat without any difficulty.

Simply, these killer bears can swim, dig, stalk, wait, and do anything to take down their prey. According to various studies in the past, many people said that polar bears are afraid of humans. But the reality is the opposite of this.

They are not afraid of humans. Humans are afraid of them. Naturally, polar bears take humans as their prey, unlike other bear species. Consequently, polar bears are known as the most killer and dangerous species of bears for humans.

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What Are the Threats That Are Killing Polar Bears, Other Than Predators?

Apart from intraspecific mortality reasons for polar bears, here are a few threats to polar bears:

  • Climate change is one of the biggest threats to polar bears. For example, increased temperatures are decreasing ice, and so is the decrease in the prey of polar bears along with their habitat loss.
  • Recently, scientists found that noises from recreational activities and factories’ subsistence are disturbing the polar bears.
  • Toxic chemicals in the air and water are causing problems for the health and longevity of polar bears. Oceans, rivers, and air currents spread toxic chemicals from the industrial sector to the Arctic environment.
  • Seals, the primary food of polar bears, are more exposed to toxic chemicals like organochlorines, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT). When bears eat seal’s blubber, they become infected. These toxic chemicals are even found in the milk of mother bears.
  • Starvation is another one of the biggest threats to polar bears. Weaker, older, and sub-adult polar bears die of starvation.
  • How can we ignore diseases and parasites? These are also the main causes of the majority of the deaths of polar bears. Mainly, the parasitic roundworm Trichinella is responsible for their illness. It mainly damages their hearts and tissues and eventually causes death.

How Do Polar Bears Protect Themselves from Predators?

Polar Bear

Polar bears have various adaptations and techniques to protect themselves from predators. Let’s go through the most popular tactics used by polar bears to protect themselves in this section: ~ Source

1. Natural Camouflage

Camouflage is a God-gifted adaptation of polar bears. Naturally, they have white, transparent fur, and they live in icy habitats. This adaptation makes them totally invisible in the Arctic. Not just for protection, they use camouflage techniques to hunt their prey.

2. Hiding Technique

Polar bears hide when they feel threatened or threatened by harm. They hide in the snow, in dens, in icy cracks, and in the bushes. The cubs and females use dens to hide from predators. Male polar bears cannot hide in dens due to the narrow gateways.

3. Mid-Hibernation State

Polar bears go into a mid-hibernation state. This doesn’t mean they remain in a hibernation state. They do come out of it very quickly. In this way, they respond to their predators very quickly. The predators think they are hibernating completely. But, in reality, they are conscious of the threats. In simple words, polar bears are not vulnerable even in their mid-hibernation state.

4. Intimidating Size and Strength

Polar bears are intimidatingly larger than other animals in the Arctic. Everyone steps back when polar bears are hungry. This is one of the best advantages because enemies become afraid of their strong and big bodies. These beasts can easily beat their rivals within a matter of minutes.

5. Territorial Behavior

Polar bears are territorial. They are proud to mark their territory with scent markings. This signals to other bears and potential predators that they are in the vicinity. Actually, polar bears discourage them from approaching.

6. Strong Sense of Smell

Polar bears have an acute sense of smell. This sense of smell helps them detect predators from a distance. Basically, polar bears use this to avoid potentially dangerous situations.

Do Starfish Eat Polar Bears?

Yes, starfish eat polar bears, but dead ones. According to surprising news on CTV and a study on Live Science, starfish are another top predator in the marine population, along with polar bears. Starfish have many arms, and when they are hungry, they move towards the shores to scavenge on dead animals.

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According to a national research group, these sea stars are directly tied up with the top predators of the Arctic – polar bears. The group called the sea stars voracious carnivores. The study states that they are equal to polar bears. Amiraux said that it is quite obvious that polar bears do not eat starfish. But starfish eat polar bears.

More studies are required to search for the behavior and relationship of sea stars with polar bears. On January 28, 2023, a Canadian News Press published the first report. It shocked everyone. However, the specialties of these species are still hidden.

FAQs’

Are tigers and lions predators of polar bears?

Absolutely not! Tigers and lions are not predators of polar bears. Tigers and lions are found in Asia and Africa, not in the icy Arctic. That’s why predation between them is highly unlikely to happen. There are possibilities that they could be rivals of polar bears if they live in the same habitat.

Are there any animals that hunt polar bears in the form of groups?

Yes, wolves are the animals that hunt polar bears in groups or packs. Although they fear polar bears, they hunt most of their cubs in packs. According to some reports, some of the wolves distract the mothers of the cubs. These wolves try to pull the mother’s attention from their kids.

Then, the other members of the wolf pack easily snatched the cubs from their mothers. If there are many wolves around the mother, she/the cub’s mother will not fight back to protect the cubs. She knew very well that it was not going to work.

Do polar bears eat other species of bears?

No, polar bears do not typically eat other species of bears. Other members of the bear family do not interact with polar bears. Polar bears have distinct habitats.

Are elephants predators of polar bears?

No, elephants are not predators of polar bears. First of all, these two distinct species inhabit vastly different regions and environments. No one interacts with each other. For example, elephants live in warmer climates, while polar bears live in the Arctic.

Secondly, elephants are herbivores, they do not eat meat. On the other hand, polar bears are carnivorous, they eat meat. So, there is no chance that elephants are predators of polar bears.

Conclusion

The shocking fact that male and adult polar bears are their own worst predators is why we know you are in shock. Polar bears are unpredictable in this way. That’s why humans are their natural predators and don’t miss a minute to take them down legally and intentionally. Otherwise, polar bears are beasts with big bodies and unbeatable strengths compared to other land carnivores. Sadly, their cubs mostly fall prey to various meat eaters.

So, we could conclude that global warming and melting ice are the biggest predators of polar bears, not animals. And that’s all we have!

Hopefully, you enjoyed reading about the predators of polar bears. If any other predator comes to mind, kindly share that with us in the comments section. We will appreciate that.

Thank you for reading!

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