• Anna Tattelman

The Tooth Walkers

Walruses are gentile and kind marine mammals that mostly live in near the Arctic Circle. Although they may not be the prettiest looking ocean animal, but walruses are actually quite interesting. In fact, the scientific name for a walrus is Odobenus Rosmarus and it is latin for tooth walking sea-horse!


Appearance 

Walruses have large bodies with either brown or pink skin. Their faces consist of small eyes, a large mustache, and two long tusks. Walruses usually weigh from 600 to 1,500 kilograms, and can be as long as 3.2 meters (a little over ten feet). Although walruses are one of the biggest mammals living in the Arctic Ocean, they are social, quite gentile, and rather kind creatures. The most memorable trait to walruses, and most likely the way people identify them is from their tusks. Walruses have two large tusks coming out of both sides of their mouth and be three feet long. Their tusks actually have many important uses. For starters, they are used to break through ice, a useful tool for a species that lives in the arctic.  They also used them to climb out of the water and onto the ice. Lastly, walruses use their tusks for defense against predators such as polar bears and orca whales.


Habitat

Most walruses are found in waters near the Arctic Circle, but many live in different waters. They prefer to live in shallow water rather than deep, because it makes it easier for them to access food. Walruses often climb on ice or beaches to sleep or rest, for they do not move quickly on land. Walruses usually travel in herds.  Males and females travel in different herds. During mating season, herds can be as large as a thousand walruses. Walruses have blubber surrounding their skin, which keeps them warm in the cold environment. 



A herd of walruses laying on an iceberg!


Diet

Walruses are carnivores but unlike most, are not actually ferocious hunters. Walruses dive underwater and use their whiskers to detect shellfish, which are their favorite food. A walrus can eat up to 4,000 clams in one feeding according to the Smithsonian Institution's Arctic Study Center. When food is hard to get, walruses will eat the carcasses of dead seals, as a last resort.


Offspring

Female walruses give birth to their young, also called calves, in the springtime during their migration. After a gestation period of 15 to 16 months, the female walrus will give birth to one calf. Very rarely will a walrus give birth to twins. Calves usually weigh 100 to 165 pounds when they are first born. As soon as it is born, it can swim. Male calves swim with their mothers for the first three years of their lives, and then it will go off with a male herd. After fifteen years, the male will start to mate. Females begin to mate as soon as they turn five years of age. 



Adult walrus protecting its young calf.




Fun Facts

  1. Walruses live up to 40 years old.

  2. Walruses are very social animals.

  3. The estimated worldwide population of walruses is 250,000.

  4. Orcas and polar bears are walruses only natural predators.

  5. Walruses can withstand water temperatures as low as -35*C.

  6. Mother walruses are extremely protective of their young.

  7. The greatest threat to walruses is climate change.

  8. Walruses are highly susceptible to noise.

  9. Pacific walruses prefer to rest in water rather than on land.

  10.  Both female and male walruses have long tusks.

  11. Male walruses are about twice as big as female walruses, have thicker skin, and longer tusks.

  12. A male walrus is called a bull.

  13. Walruses spend half their time on land and half in water.



Sources:

https://www.alaskawild.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Animals-of-the-Arctic-Ocean.pdf

https://www.livescience.com/27442-walrus-facts.html

https://arctickingdom.com/10-fun-facts-about-walrus/

https://www.wwf.org.uk/learn/fascinating-facts/walrus



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