Walruses are one of the largest animals in the group of seals.
The weight of adult males can reach 1.5 tons, canines are greatly increased and resemble tusks, their length reaches 80 cm. Females of walruses are distinguished for their extraordinary dedication and care for their offspring.
What do walruses eat?
Most of the walrus diet is Bivalvia mollusks and other bottom invertebrates, which are extracted at depths up to 50-80 meters.
They can also eat:
- Some types of lobster;
Less often, walruses eat octopuses and sea cucumbers As a last resort, some species of fish are fed, although usually, walruses do not pay attention to fish. Walruses can also eat other seals, such as baby seals or ringed seals, but this is extremely rare and in exceptional cases, when the usual food is not enough for everyone. Only single individuals are attacked, so there is no need to speak about the mass character of eating other animals. In very rare cases, walruses can attack landed birds.
On average, to be saturated, an adult walrus must eat up to 50 kg of shellfish or other food per day. The extraction of food is as follows. First, the walrus with its powerful fangs sticks into the sandy or muddy bottom, “plows” it, and uproots shells from there.
Their shells are erased by intense movement of flippers, whose surface is covered with multiple hard calluses, and meat is eaten. Similarly, worms and crustaceans are extracted. Their walruses are actually swept from the bottom to be eaten. The food search is done with the help of whiskers located on the face of the animal.
Features of character and way of life
Walruses are herd animals. Usually, the size of each herd is from 20 to 30 walruses, but on some rookeries, hundreds or even thousands of animals are combined. Each herd is dominated by the strongest and largest male. The others periodically find out their relations with him and try to take away the title. The subject of the dispute is almost always females.
In the herd, the animals often lie very close to each other, due to limited land area or ice floe. Often, they have to lie on their side, sometimes putting their head on the neighboring walrus. And if there is very little space, they can also lie in two layers. All rookeries are constantly “moving”: some animals go into the water to eat or cool down, and in their place immediately return other walruses to sleep.
Interesting fact: on the edges of the walrus rookeries there are almost always sentries, which noticed the danger, immediately notify all the others with a roar. After this signal, the whole herd as one rushes into the water.
With other animals and to each other walruses are mostly peaceful and friendly. Female walruses have a very developed maternal instinct to everything else, so they selflessly protect the cubs when danger appears, and take care not only of their offspring but also of other’s cubs. They are also very sociable. Any adult walrus in the herd allows any cub to climb on his back and lie there to rest.
These huge, clumsy land-based animals inhabiting the Far North live mostly off the coast and rarely make significant journeys. Walruses are sociable and mainly meet herds; they bravely defend each other: in general, walruses in the water are dangerous opponents, as they can overturn or smash a boat with their fangs. They themselves rarely attack the boats. The herd always puts out the sentry.
Walruses have a good sense of smell, and they smell people at a considerable distance, so they try to get close to them against the wind. Noticing the danger, a sentry roar (which in the walruses is something between a cow’s moose and rough barking) or jerks wakes the others, the animals throw themselves into the sea, almost simultaneously go under the water and can stay there without air for up to 10 minutes.
Walruses hold in groups, females separately. Walruses are born once every three to four years. Their mother feeds them with milk until a year, other food young walruses begin to eat from 6 months. With the mother, they stay up to two to three years. All members of the walrus herd guard the walruses and help them if necessary. If, for example, one of the cubs gets tired of swimming, he should not climb on the back of an adult to rest there. In general, mutual support and assistance are very characteristic of walruses.
There is an opinion that huge fangs serve mainly for digging out the bottom of the named shellfish, as well as for protection. Also, based on observations of the nature of tusk wear and erasure of whiskers on the walrus’ face, it is believed that walruses are likely to dig the ground not with tusks, and the upper edge of the snout and tusks play a mainly social role, as they are used to establish hierarchical relationships and demonstrate the threat.
Also, they can be used to make and maintain holes in the ice and to “mooch” on ice so as not to slip in strong winds or currents. Observations of walruses in zoos and similar facilities have shown that they often use tusks in fights with each other, especially during the mating period. Because walruses tusks help themselves to climb on ice floes or rocky shores, they got their generic name: “odobenus” in Greek means “walking on teeth” or “walking on teeth”.