Facts About Walruses

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The Walruses are known as the gentle giants of the Arctic Circle. They are one of the largest pinnipeds or fin-footed animals although large in size and are carnivores are quite harmless and are the semi-aquatic mammals of the marine world.

Fact 1. Description:

Walruses are interesting creatures that have a variety of features unlike other mammals or marine creatures. They have flippers, a flat broad head, small eyes, short muzzle, tuskers and whiskers. Scientists categorize walruses into two sub-species namely the Pacific walrus and the Atlantic walrus. They weigh between 600 to 1500 kg (1320 to 3300 lbs) and are 3.2 meters long according to ADW of Museum of Zoology at the Michigan University. The males are often double the size of female walruses. The cinnamon brown or pink skin covers the flabby bodies and the short fur runs along the entire bodies except the fins. The eyes are comparatively small in relation to the enormous body and the mustache and two long tusks give them a different look. The tusks and the skin of the males are longer and thicker than the females.

Fact 2.

Every animal has its own way of defending itself. The large tusks are used as defense aids and also for getting out of the water and cutting through the snow. Hence the tusks are more than 2 ½ feet and 3 feet long respectively in females and males. To move on land, they use their hind flippers that can turn forward. The front flippers are quite large and each one of them has 5 digits. The males use their special air-sacs to make a bellowing sound.

Fact 3. Living conditions

Walruses are typically seen in the frigid regions near the Arctic Circle. They love to stay in shallow water areas so that they can easily get food as reported by ADW. The three sub-species of walruses inhabit different areas. The Atlantic walruses prefer the coastal regions along the north-eastern Canada to Greenland. Laptev walruses live near the Laptev Sea in Russia and the Pacific walruses prefer the northern seas near Alaska and Russia.

Fact 4. Habits of walruses

Walruses are marine creatures and so they can move fast in the water but are comparatively slower on land. They can swim around 7km/h on an average and their speed is about 35km/h. Walruses live in groups called herds and they have female herds and male herds. They gather together to take a sunbath on the ice. During the mating season they are seen in large numbers and the head of the male herd is chosen according to their body size, age and length of the tusks.  They are however very sociable animals and move about in groups. They become a bit ferocious in the mating season only and that too is visible among the male walruses. The baby walrus can swim soon after birth and they stay close to their mothers till they are 3 years old after which the males join their herds. Walruses have a life span of 40 years.

Fact 5. What they eat

The staple food of the walruses is mussels, clams and other organisms that live at the bottom of the waters. They can locate these organisms by their whiskers. Since they are carnivores, they are known to feast on the carcass of young seals too especially when food becomes scarce. However, the most favorite foods of the walruses are shellfish. The Arctic Study Center informs that walruses can eat about 4000 clams at a time in one feed.

Walruses are hunted by natives for their bones, tusks that are ivory, hides and also for food. According to National Geography, the scientific name of the walrus is Odobenus Rosmarus, which in Latin means “tooth-walking sea-horse.”


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