The walrus is a large mammal that lives in the cold arctic seas of Europe, Asia, and North America. It is a separate animal species and belongs to the seals. Special are its large upper teeth, the so-called tusks, which hang down from its mouth.
The walrus has a stocky body and a round head. It has fins instead of legs. Its mouth is covered with stiff whiskers. The skin is wrinkled and grey-brown. A thick layer of fat under the skin, called blubber, keeps the walrus warm. Walruses can grow up to three meters and 70 centimeters in length and weigh more than 1,200 kilograms. Male walruses have air sacs that help keep their heads above water while walrus sleep.
The walrus has a tusk on each side of its mouth. The tusks can be up to a meter long and weigh a little over five kilograms. The walrus uses its tusks to fight. It also uses them to cut holes in the ice and pull itself out of the water.
Hardly any animal will ever attack a walrus. At best, a polar bear tries to persuade a herd of walruses to flee. Then he pounces on an old, weak walrus or on a young animal. Bacteria in the fins or in the eyes are also dangerous for the walrus. A broken tusk can also lead to weight loss and early death.
Local people have always hunted walruses, but not very many. They used the whole animal: they ate the meat and heated it with the fat. For some of their hulls, they used walrus bones and covered the hulls with walrus skin. They also made clothes out of it. The tusks are ivory and almost as valuable as those of the elephants. They made beautiful things out of it. But really many walruses were only slaughtered by hunters from the south with their guns.
How do walruses live?
Walruses live in groups that can number more than a hundred animals. They spend most of their time in the sea. Sometimes they also rest on ice or rocky islands. On land, they flip their rear flippers forward under their bodies to waddle around.
Walruses feed mainly on mussels. They use their tusks to dig up shells from the sea floor. They have several hundred whiskers, which they use to sense and feel their prey very well.
Walruses are believed to mate in the water. The pregnancy lasts eleven months, almost a year. Twins are extremely rare. A calf weighs around 50 kilograms at birth. It can swim immediately. For half a year she drinks nothing but her mother’s milk. Only then does it take other food. But she drinks milk for two years. In the third year, it still stays with the mother. But then she can carry a baby in her stomach again.