Whiskers are hairs that extend from the snout or nose of mammals. And bears are considered mammals. Does it mean bears have whiskers too?
Quick Answer – No! Most bears do not have whiskers.
Whiskers are also named vibrissae because of the vibrations (sensory function) they produce in some mammals. But it is entirely different for bears.
Bears have hairs around their snout, but they are not long enough to be called whiskers.
This is because the hair does not help them to detect their prey and find their way around.
Although some people mistake the bear‘s hair for whiskers because they look alike. But their functions are not the same. This could be because of the bear’s size.
The work of vibrissae is not required to keep them hunting, as they are naturally prey-driven.
You can now see that most bears don’t have whiskers.
Now, let’s examine different kinds of bears to see which one has whiskers.
Do Grizzly Bears Have Whiskers?
Yes, Grizzly bears have whiskers.
Just like polar bears, the grizzly bear’s whiskers are seen on a closer look around their snout.
And to think of it, they do not serve as their vibrissae (sensory tool), rather, it is a minor way of adaptation.
Do Polar Bears Have Whiskers?
Surprisingly, yes polar bears are one of the bear categories with tiny whiskers.
These whiskers are so small and barely noticeable when compared to the size of the polar bear.
Unless you are very close to the bear (which you don’t want to be) you will not see the whiskers.
Whether you can see the whiskers or not, the polar bears have got it on their snouts.
Their whiskers are few, short, and pale brown in color.
They do not operate as sensory tools because they are not very developed.
Do Koala Bears Have Whiskers?
No, Koala bears do not have whiskers.
All they have is a large round face with ears having thick hair inside and outside.
They also have a big black leathery soft snout used for blowing out toxins and smelling their food.
Do Black Bears Have Whiskers?
No, black bears do not have whiskers.
It’s true they have lots of hairs on their snout, but these hairs do not behave like whiskers (vibrissae).
The hairs on a black bear‘s snout do not give it any receptive information to its brain.
Do Brown Bears Have Whiskers?
No, brown bears do not have whiskers!
Just like black bears, brown bears have lots of hairs around their snout.
But these hairs are not long enough to be called whiskers.
They are short to operate as their sensory tools (vibrissae) just like it is in dogs and cats.
Do Panda Bears Have Whiskers?
No, panda bears (Or “giant pandas”) do not have whiskers.
Nevertheless, they have thick hairs on their faces, and around their snouts but these are not truly whiskers.
They are not the kind of hair that sends sensory information to the brain.
RECOMMENDED READING FOR FULL GUIDE: DO PANDAS HAVE WHISKERS?
Why Most Bears Don’t Have Whiskers
Most bears do not have whiskers because the hair around their snout is not connected to any of their nerves.
In other mammals, these hairs are connected to a bundle of nerves that sends constant signals to the brain.
Meaning that even without their eyes and skin They can see and feel things around them.
For example, dogs use their whiskers for touch, defense, and communication.
None of these applies to a bear because they are natural prey hunters and communicate through sounds and smells.
How Do Whiskers Work On A Polar Bear?
Polar bears are bear species with tiny whiskers as earlier said.
As much as the hair around their snout and muzzle does not serve as a sensory tool, it is their minor mode of adaptation.
Waterman said “As a polar bear’s whiskers grow, they separate the bear’s fur, used against heat loss”
By separation, it shows the spots where the bear’s black skin can be seen against the white fur.
And these spots now create a unique pattern on both sides of the bear’s face (used to differentiate each individual).
Now you’ve learned that most bears don’t have whiskers.
They don’t have whiskers because the hair around their snout is so short to help them recognize their prey. It does not help them in finding their way around their habitat either.
Grizzly and polar bears have tiny whiskers which differentiate them a little from black, brown, panda, and koala bears.
Do you want to know what Giant Pandas and Polar Bears have in common? Read our article “Giant Panda Vs Polar Bear – Similarities & Differences.