All About the Walrus
Walrus is part of the order of Pinnipedia. Pinnipeds
include seal, sea lions and walruses. most scientsists
recognize two subspecies of walruses: Odobenus Rosmarus
Rosmarus (Atlantic) and Odobenus Rosmarus Divergens
(Pacific) . The word Odobenus comes from the greek term
“tooth walker” and refers to the walruses method of
pulling them onto the ice with their long tusks.
Walruses are originally named from the Danish word
“hvalros”, meaning “sea horse” or “sea cow”. Walruses
are circumpolar. Pacific Walruses inhabit the Bering,
Chuckchi and Laptev Seas, where the Atlantic Walruses
inhabit the coastal areas of Northeastern Canada and
Walruses spend about 2/3 of their lives in the water.
Walruses will haul out to rest and bear their young.
They are adapted to ice floes, and snow packs but will
haul out on rocky islands when ice is not present. Walruses
migrate following the pack ice. They can migrate more
than 1800 miles per year.
Male pacific walruses weigh between 1700 and 3748 lbs
and are 9-12 feet long. Female pacific walruses are
880-2750 lbs and are 7.5-10 feet long. Atlantic walruses
are slightly smaller than pacific walruses.
Most walruses are cinnamon to brown, but their color
may appear different under different temperature conditions.
In cold water walruses may appear pale, in warm weather
their skin may look pink.
Walrus calves are born gray to brown, within a week
or two the calf becomes tawny to brown. The walruses
body is covered in short fine hair. Walruses mot their
skin in August each year. Coloration pales with age.
Most walruses have 18 teeth the two canine teeth grow
into long ivory tusks. Both male and female walruses
have tusks. Male walrus tusks tend to be longer and
straighter than female walrus tusks. Tusks can grow
up to 39 inches in males and 31 inches in females. A
newborn calf will grow its tusk during its first summer
of fall. Tusks are used to assert and establish social
dominance and to assist with hauling out on to ice or
A walrus has a thick tough skin, that can be 2-4 inches,
the toughest skin is found around the neck and shoulders
of adult males. The thick skin helps protect the walrus
against the tusks of other walruses.
Walruses eat mollusks, but will also eat crustaceans
and soft-bodied animals. Walruses eat 3-6% of their
total weight per day. Walruses root in the ocean sediment,
with their sensitive whiskers for soft shelled clams.
Once they locate a clam they suck out the soft clam
with their powerful jaws.
Walruses swim about 4 mph but can swim up to 21 mph
for short periods of time. Walruses congregate in herds
and are seldom found alone. Herds can have hundreds
of members. Their is a social hierarchy found in the
herd and sub groups. Dominance is determined by the
length of tusk s and aggressiveness. Smaller walruses
and those with broken tusks have a lower social ranking.
Tusks are used as weapons, male walruses will compete
during mating season as well as for the most favorable
haul out locations.
Male walruses sexually mature at 8-10 years, but they
don’t typically successful reproduce until 15 years
of age. Most female walruses mature at 5-6 years, giving
birth to their first young at 10 years of age.
Walruses gestation period is 15-16 month. Walruses
give birth to a single calf at a time. Calves weigh
100-165 lbs and are 3-4 feet long. Walrus calves will
often ride on it’s mother’s back in the water. Walruses
nurse for two years. Walrus cows are extremely protective
of their young.
The worlds walrus population is estimated to be about
250,000 animals. Walruses can typically live 16-40 years.
Polar bears and killer whales will prey on walrus calves
and injured adults. The worlds walrus population is
estimated to be about 250,000 animals.
About the Author
Jacob Maddox manages content for Wildlife Animals http://www.wildlife-animals.com
an educational wildlife and animal website. Jacob also
guest writes for Dog Pound http://www.dog-pound.net