The Polar Bear Paw

The Polar Bear Paw is the Largest of its Species!

Paws are one of the polar bear’s most interesting & unique features. The polar bear paw is an essential asset of our furry friends & are crucial to their survival.

They help them with stability, traction, & swimming!

Why Are Their Paws So Big?


The polar bear’s large paw disperses their weight out over deep snow and thin ice to avoid falling through. Their paws are so big so they can hold up their massive body. Polar bears can weigh up to 1,500 pounds so it is no surprise their paws are HUGE.


Their paws are crucial to their survival as their large size & weight provides added traction on the ice. A polar bear paw has thick, black covered pads with soft papillae. Papillae are dermal bumps that enhance friction between ice and paw to prevent slipping. Slipping is also prevented by the long hairs that are dispersed between their toes.

Traction allows them to run quickly reaching speed as fast as 40 kph (25 mph), when being chased or charging prey. Their average walking speed is 5.5 kph (3.4 mph).


Adult polar bears are powerful swimmers. They use their front paws to swim and their back paws, and legs, to steer. Polar bears can swim in the Arctic waters during any time of the year because they have thick layers of both fur and blubber to keep them warm.

Paw Size

Polar bear paws are four times the size of human hands, averaging around 12 inches in size.

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