What Colour is a Polar Bear, White, Yellow or Green?

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What colour do you think Polar bear fur is? That might seem like a silly question but the answer might surprise you. HINT: it’s not white! Polar bear fur is actually clear! That’s right! CLEAR!

polar bear
But if the Polar bear’s skin is black, how come they don’t look black in colour? Well, each of the longer guard hairs on the Polar bear’s body is hollow and reflects visible light, much like snow. So when the sun is shining brightly, Polar bears appear bright white.

Polar Bear, Algae, Green
This polar bear has algae growing in its hair. Photo Credit: Steven Pierson

Since these hairs are hollow, the Polar bears’ diet and environment can affect their colour. Polar bears whose diet has a lot of seals in it can look light yellow because of the seal oils. Polar bears that live in warmer climates (like in zoos) can have algae growing in their hair, which can make them look green! Don’t worry, being green doesn’t cause the Polar bear any harm and a bath with special salt solution turns them white again.

 
 
 

Looking for more details? Check out this article where we dive deeper into the science behind why Polar bears look white!

 

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