Do Polar Bears Hibernate? A Guide on Polar Bear Hibernation

Here at Wildlife Collections, we love polar bears. That’s why we’re fighting so hard to save them, by raising money for wildlife conservations such as Polar Bears International with our Venture Bracelet. Not only does Polar Bears International do important work that helps polar bears to remain in their natural habitats but they also do crucial research on the fascinating species.


Let’s find out some more facts about our favourite arctic mammals. Knowing what we know about the bear species in general, one question in particular that gets asked a lot is whether or not polar bears hibernate.


Most of us associate bears with hibernation, but the truth is a little more complicated than that. Different types of bears have different hibernation patterns, with some spending more time dormant than others. Bears may also leave their den during the hibernation period, and this is highly dependent on their environment as well as the species of bear in question.


In this article, we’ll take a look at hibernation habits among polar bears and explain how they compare and contrast to other kinds of bears. Overall, while polar bears don’t truly “hibernate” in the common sense of the word, they are generally much less active during the winter months when energy conservation is crucial.

Walking Hibernation

The state polar bears typically enter during winter is often known as “walking hibernation.” Throughout the walking hibernation period, polar bears significantly slow down their metabolism while maintaining their body temperature and waiting for warmer weather.


While there’s a clear difference between this and the typical activity level of a polar bear during the summer, walking hibernation is very different from a full state of hibernation. Other species that go through hibernation usually go through a much greater drop in temperature and are substantially less active during the hibernation period.

Pregnancy

Even though polar bears don’t tend to fully hibernate during the winter months, female bears go through a period of inactivity before and after they give birth to cubs. In fact, an expecting mother can go as long as eight months in their den without consuming any food.


With that being said, even this isn’t exactly hibernation—new mothers need to maintain a relatively high body temperature in order to effectively care for their new children. They will then emerge when the cubs are ready to leave the den and live in the wild.


Different types of bears are more active during the winter than others, and polar bears fall somewhere in the middle. While their body temperature doesn’t go through any dramatic changes, they tend to stay in one place and eat much less food than they do during the warmer months. This is one of the most common misconceptions surrounding polar bears as well as other animals in the bear family.


Find out more about the beautiful polar bear species by visiting Polar Bears International.