Differences Between Male & Female Polar Bears

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While male and female polar bears are significantly different in size, size isn't the only way they're distinct from one another. Male and female polar bears exhibit drastically different patterns of behavior, particularly when it comes to mating and caring for their young. While mothers take on the role of nurturing and protecting their cubs, males wander in pursuit of other activity, including finding more mates.

Size

Male polar bears are typically significantly larger than females, growing to a length between 8 and 10 feet while females are only 6 to 8 feet long. Their size difference is even more noticeable in their weight -- while a male may weigh between 550 and 1700 pounds, a female only grows to between 330 and 650 pounds.

Reproduction

Polar bear reproductive behavior sets them apart by gender, as well. While they are both typically solitary, males wander in proactive search for mates. But they reach sexual maturity up to two years later than females. Females start to mate when they are as young as 4, while males may not start until they are 6. Males engage in play-fighting with one another and may fight over a potential mate. Females assume more passive roles in breeding. After mating, the male leaves the female, and she alone raises the cubs. Mothers are highly protective and affectionate; they may care for their young until they are 30 months old.

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Author

Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.