Walrus

Jeff Foott/DCI |

Walrus

Walruses have enlarged upper canine teeth, or tusks, up to three feet (1 m) long.

They feed on invertebrates such as crustaceans, starfish, and mollusks, which they suck out of the shell. They also prey on fish and seals.

The walrus uses its tusks to chop breathing holes in ice and to get from water onto floes, jabbing the ice as it hoists up its body.

In struggles for dominance, the male displays his tusks. Usually the behavior is limited to posturing, but violence can ensue, with a walrus striking his tusks point-first into his opponent.

Adult males develop hide thickenings on the neck and shoulders, perhaps due to scarring from such battles.

Animal Facts

Name: Walrus (Odobenus rosmarus)

Family: Odobenidae (Walrus)

Range: Circumpolar in north

Habitat: Shallow coastal water and ice floes

Diet: Crustaceans, starfish, mollusks, fish, and seals

Total Length: 7.5 to 12 feet (2.3 to 3.6 m)

Weight: 1,300 to 3,300 pounds (600 to 1,500 kg)

Life Cycle: Mating January to March, implantation delayed 90 to 120 days; gestation 310 to 335 days, one (rarely two) young born

Description: Red to pinkish in color; small, pig-like eyes; no external ears; large, heavy tusks; stiff beard bristles; short, coarse, sparse hair; tough, folded, wrinkled skin

Conservation Status: Common