Animals & Wildlife Magazine

Featured Animal: Walrus

By Azanimals @azanimals
Walrus The walrus is a large marine mammal that has flippers to help it swim. The walrus is found in the colder waters of the Northern Hemisphere, but the walrus is much more adapted specifically to the conditions of the Arctic Circle.

Walrus There are three species of walrus. The Atlantic walrus, the Pacific walrus and the Laptev walrus found in the Laptev Sea. The walrus is most closely related to the seal and although the walrus and the seal are obviously similar, the walrus has some distinctive features such as the large tusks on the face of the walrus.

Walrus
The walrus hunts fish and small mammals in the Arctic Circle. For a few hundred years, the walrus has been hunted by the Arctic people for meat, oil and the skin of the walrus but walrus hunting has led to the extinction of the walrus on many small islands within the Arctic circle. Today, only the Native Americans are allowed to hunt the walrus as it can often be one of the only sources of food for hundreds of miles.

Walrus
The walrus is a particularly sociable marine mammal and can often be seen in large groups. Walrus' can be heard grunting and making loud bellowing noises at each other but they become particularly aggressive during the mating season. The male walrus displays the most aggressive behaviour as the males have to fight to gain the respect of a female walrus.

Walrus' have long white tusks which they use for helping them to survive in the tough conditions of the Arctic circle. Both the male walrus and the female walrus have long tusks which can reach nearly a metre in length. Walrus' use their tusks for a number of reasons including breaking holes in the ice, hauling their large bodies out of the water and onto the ice, and defend themselves. The walrus also has a thick layer of fat under their skin, known as blubber, which keeps the walrus warm in the sub-zero temperatures and walrus' also have long, sensitive whiskers which they use as detective devices to find their favourite meal of shellfish on the dark ocean floor.

The male walrus (bull) is often nearly double the size of the female walrus (cow). Walrus' can be found in groups of up to 2,000 walrus individuals which generally consists of the alpha male and his group of females and their young. The alpha male walrus will defend his walrus clan from other large male walrus' that are trying to infiltrate the group and steal the attention of his female followers.

Walrus' are thought to mate about once a year during the colder winter months. After a gestation period of just over a year, the female walrus gives birth to her fully developed walrus calf. The walrus calf stays with it's mother until it is at least 2 years old. This prolonged nursing period means that the walrus calf can develop it's warm and insulating layer of blubber which is vital to the survival of the walrus in the freezing conditions which the walrus inhabits.

The walrus has a carnivorous diet which mainly consists of shellfish and echinoderms such as starfish and sea urchins. Occasionally the walrus will hunt fish, seals and young whales. The walrus uses it's enormous tusks to hold larger prey down so that the walrus can then eat it.


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