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Walrus

Walrus Facts

Size Up to 12.4 ft (3.8 m)
Speed Up to 22 mph (35 km/h)
Weight Up to 1.7 tons
Lifespan 40-50 years
Food Mussels, snails, crabs
Predators Orcas, polar bears
Habitat Arctic region
Order Carnivore
Family Walrus
Scientific name Odobenus rosmarus
Characteristics Long tusks, deep brown to nearly pink skin

Main Characteristics

Walruses are seals that live in the Arctic seas of the Earth's northern hemisphere. They are predators and primarily prey on mussels. Walruses are famous for their big, long tusks. Yet, they are not able to catch their prey with them. The tusks are just too big and impractical for this.

Anatomy and Appearance

Why Do Walruses Have Tusks?

With their tusks walruses defend themselves against hungry polar bears. In most cases the polar bear is the loser of the battle and often fatally wounded. Yet, the walruses use their teeth mainly to heave their bodies from the water onto ice floes or rocks. If there is no hole in the icy surface, the tusks can be used just like an ice-pick. By the way: The boss of the walrus community is the one with the biggest tusks!

Our knowledge article has even more exciting information about teeth in the animal kingdom!

The Tusks of a Walrus Reveal Its Age

What Do Walruses and Trees have in Common? You can easily tell the age of a tree by counting its growth rings. It is quite similar with walruses: Their teeth also contain “growth rings”.

Walrus or Polar Bear – Who Is Bigger?

With a weight of approximately 1,984 lb (900 kg), the Polar bear is too heavy for any weighing scale. The walrus weighs even more: A grown-up male walrus can get heavier than 3,300 lb (1,500 kg). The walrus is also bigger. While it can grow 12.4 feet (3.8 meters) in length, the Polar bear is no more than 10 feet (3.1 meters) long.

Walrus Walrus - Photo: BMJ/Shutterstock

Behavior

Walruses Love Mussels to Bits

Walruses really like mussels by the way. In order to get at the delicious meat, they press their lips against the shell and suck it out. One meal consists of 3,000 to 6,000 mussels!

Senses and Abilities

How Long Can Walruses Hold Their Breath?

When walruses dive for prey, they can stay underwater for up to 30 minutes. They do not dive very deep, but mostly stay in shallow coastal waters up to 262 feet (80 meters) deep.

How Do Walruses Survive in Arctic Sea?

Walruses spend more than two thirds of their lifetime dabbling in the water. In order not to freeze to death at icy temperatures, they have a layer of fat, which is up to 6 inch (15 cm) thick. During the winter it accounts for about one third of the walrus’s total weight.

Walruses Use Their Whiskers to Locate Prey

When they are hunting, they use their (up to 450!) whiskers on their snouts to detect prey in the water. They blow at their victims to make them move and then catch them.

Walrus Walrus - Photo: tryton2011/Shutterstock

Speed

Walruses Can Move Suprisingly Fast on Land

Walruses might appear rather plump when they are moving on all fours across the shore. Yet, they can move as quickly as a human being.

Reproduction

Walruses take their time. Their pregnancy lasts 11 months and they never give birth to more than one calf. Twin births are very rare.

Fun Facts

Walruses Can Get Sunburned

Did you know that walruses are animals, that can get sunburned?

The Walrus Is Related To:

  • Elephant Seal
  • Fur Seal
  • Seal
  • Sea Lion

Animals in the Same Biome:

Walrus Walrus - Photo: tryton2011/Shutterstock

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