Walruses are without a doubt one of the most majestic and recognizable animals in the Arctic, thanks to their distinguished features like moustaches, long tusks, and their massive size. With many appearances in pop culture including The Beatles’ “I Am the Walrus”, it’s safe to say they are beloved among wildlife enthusiasts around the world.
These large marine mammals are extremely social, but also loud and even quite aggressive during mating season. But is that all? What else should we know regarding these extremely unusual creatures? Let’s dive into their world through these interesting facts about walruses… and learn a thing or two!
Most often, walruses are found near the Arctic Circle, lying on the ice with hundreds of companions.
Walruses are extremely sociable marine mammals, prone to loudly roaring and snorting at one another.
During mating season walruses become aggressive.
Walruses are well-known for their wrinkled brown and pink hides, long white tusks, grizzly whiskers, flat flipper, and bodies full of fat.
The walrus is a fin-footed mammal, and is related to seals and sea lions. Their skin is protected by a thin layer of small coarse hairs.
The long tusks which are surrounded by a mat of stiff bristles are their most remarkable features.
Walruses use their long tusks for different reasons, each of which makes their lives in the Arctic a bit easier.
The tusks are used to pull their huge bodies out of cold waters, thus their “tooth-walking” label, and to break breathing holes into ice from below.
Tusks, found on both males’ and females’ walruses, can range to about 3 feet, and are, in fact, large canine teeth, which grow during their lives.
Male walruses, or bulls, also use their tusks determinedly to sustain territory and, throughout the mating season, to defend their harems of females or cows.
They migrate with the icebergs but never go far from the coast because they feed in shallow waters.
To feed on molluscs and other invertebrates walruses can swim to a depth of around 100m, but on average they don’t go much deeper than 20-30m.
To sleep or to rest they climb up on the ice or beaches.
Walruses are swift in the water but don’t move quickly on land. They can swim on average around 4.35 mph (7 km/h) and as fast as 21.74 mph (35 km/h).
A herd is a group of walruses.
To sunbathe, they haul themselves on to the ice in groups of hundreds.
Walruses gather by the thousands during mating season.
Usually, the herd is separated by gender, females have their herds, and males theirs. The domineering males are chosen by age, body size, and tusk length.
Walruses use their sensitive whiskers, as detection devices, to find their favourite meals, especially those found near the dark ocean floor.
Their bodies grant them a comfortable life in the Arctic region.
Walruses can slow their heartbeats to endure the polar temperatures of the surrounding waters.
There are two populations of walrus: the Pacific and the Atlantic walrus.
The two categories of walrus are divided geographically. The Atlantic walruses populate coastal areas from north-eastern Canada to Greenland, while Pacific walruses occupy the northern seas of Russia and Alaska.
During the Spring migration, north female Pacific walruses give birth to their young, called calves.
The female gives birth to one calf after a gestation period of 15 to 16 months.
Seldom, walruses give birth to twins. Calves weigh around 100 to 165 lbs. (45 to 75 kg) at birth.
The walrus’s calf can swim as soon as it’s born.
For the first 3 years of its life, the calf will swim along with its mother.
The male calves go off to live with the male herd when they become 3 years old.
The males start to mate at 15, while females as soon as they reach 5 years old.
Walruses can live up to 40 years.
At the moment only Native Americans have the permission to hunt walruses, as the species’ survival was endangered by past overhunting.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, walrus’ tusks, oil, skin, and meat were so wanted that they were hunted close to extinction.
Walrus’s large, loose bodies are covered in brown or pink skin.
Except for their fins, most of their body is covered with short fur.
A walrus’s face has two small eyes, a moustache, and two long tusks.
Their moustache’s hairs are as sensitive as fingers.
They weigh from 600 to 1,500 kilograms (1,320 to 3,300 lbs.) and can be as long as 3.2 meters (10.5 feet).
Males have longer and thicker tusks and skin and are about twice as big as females.
Walrus’s tusks can grow up to 3 feet (1 m).
They can sleep for an uninterrupted 19 hours, but sometimes while at sea they can stay awake for about three and a half straight days.
The walrus’s Latin name “Odobenus rosmarus” translates into “tooth-walking seahorse”.
The population of walruses was almost eradicated due to commercial hunting in the 1950s.
In the 1980s the population was brought back to a prospering number.
Because the walrus’s population is currently unknown the IUCN doesn’t have a category or standards on the conservation status of the walrus.
What the International Union for Conservation of Nature does say is that the population of walruses is large, but declining, as a result of climate change.
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about walruses that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!