Why Don’t Polar Bears Eat Penguins?

Many of us have heard the joke related to the question, why don’t polar bears eat penguins? Apart from the joke, there are factual answers associated with the question.

Polar bears live in the Arctic at the North Pole whereas, penguins live in the Antarctic at the South Pole. They both are far away with pole distance from each other. The reason is why polar bears cannot prey on penguins. Polar bears are found to be the Arctic’s major marine predators.

If the penguins are the habitat of the Arctic:

Suppose, if we consider penguins live in the Arctic with polar bears, definitely polar bears will prey on the penguins. But penguins do not cover up the necessary fat needs of polar bears as the contribution of seal species. Penguins will be the part of the polar bear’s diet along with the other preys.

Even though there are some myths that penguins were living in the North Pole along with polar bears, there is one similarity between the two creatures. Both penguins and polar bears live in the extreme cold conditions Antarctic and Arctic.

Female polar bear and cub eating the carcass

Female polar bear and cub eating the carcass

Polar bears and its diet in the Arctic:

In the Arctic polar bears can eat almost all the living entities. Their favorite food of all time includes the bearded seal, hooded seal, bowhead whales, and the ringed seal. Along with the remains of beluga whales, walruses, harp and narwhals.

Occasionally feed on young walruses and beluga whales. Their food preferences also depend on the locality where they are and the availability. In that case, polar bears can eat other animals like small rodents, seabirds, reindeer, waterfowl, eggs of birds, fish, fruits like berries and few other plants.

Polar bears can kill and consume a minimum of 44% young seals annually. A 121 pound of the seal can serve the polar bears with the energy for eight days. It might not be sufficient for an adult or mother polar bear to store the energy, they eat a lot more to get the required nutrition.

Parts of food which the polar bears eat the most:

  • Polar bears eat the skin and the blubber of the seals which is the fatty layer below the skin and which is quite similar to that of the penguins’ blubber.
  • They usually leave the carcasses to the other small predator like a fox and baby polar bears.
  • Whenever there is a scarcity of major nutrition, they eat leftovers of the whales, seals and other marine animals.



  • Polar bears are profound in the still-hunting technique. They hunt two or three seals at a time and feed on only one where the stomach gets filled and leaves the other for future use but never have made it in a single day consumption.
  • Also, when polar bears are unable to hunt their usual prey, they hunt on land mammals when they are scavenging together in the Arctic.
  • Mostly the adult polar bear hunts the Arctic fox during the scarcity and makes food on accessibility.
  • Polar bears even eat fishes during summer. Since during the high cold temperatures, the fishes swim deep under the ocean and don’t go to the reach of the polar bears.
  • Whereas, during winter they feed on cods and salmons which may fall as preys when the polar bears are short of their usual diet.
  • Polar bears also found eating plants such as herbs, grasses, mosses, shrubs, and flowering plants.
  • They are also fond of berries like black crowberries and blueberries. During the berry season, they do go in search of these berries.
  • During the spring season, the polar bears find the pup’s place and prey them.
  • This action is mostly performed by the female polar bears along with her babies.

Even carcasses and human trash as food:

During scarcity of their diet routine, polar bears smell through to reach the place where there is human garbage and also the carcasses (animals’ remains such as skeletons etc.)

Polar bears and cannibalism:

Adult polar bears may fight with the other adult polar bear but they do not prey on each other. But, shockingly they prey on their community of young bears during the lack of food in the Arctic.

Other rumored reasons why polar bears cannot eat penguins:

  • Penguins glide out of the polar bear’s grip from getting into the snack palate.
  • Bears cannot eat the skin of the penguins.
  • Polar bears cannot eat penguins because they cannot get the wrappers off.
Why don't polar bears eat penguins



Also, penguins being a bird cannot provide the nutritional need of even a baby polar bear to live in the frosty climate of the Arctic. Thus, polar bears don’t eat penguins until they advance their capability to fly.

Suppose, if the polar bears and penguins live in the same region, they can eat nearly 80 penguins at a stretch. Moreover, this gorgeous but dangerous animal can even stomach us if we are reachable and it will be subjected to how available the species are.





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I got interested in penguins from a young age and as I grew I realized that penguins are such fascinating birds. I made it a mission to create a website where all information about penguins could be accessed in an easy to read format.

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