There’s much more to these big, blubbery beach-hoggers than meets the eye! So come on gang, let’s discover some wonderful walrus facts…

Walrus facts

1. There are two sub-species of walrus

Walruses can be found in the far north of our planet. They live in the Arctic – a vast wilderness of snow, ice, and sea.

The Arctic landscape is so large and varied, that walruses that live there have developed slightly different characteristics, in order to adapt to the particular part they live in – these are known as sub-species.

Atlantic walruses live in coastal areas from Canada to Greenland (in the Atlantic Ocean), while Pacific walruses live in the northern seas above Russia and Alaska (in the Pacific Ocean). Cool!

BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW!

The scientific name for a walrus is ‘Odobenus rosmarus’. That’s Latin for ‘tooth-walking sea-horse‘!

2. Walrus tusks can be over 90cm long!

Speaking of teeth, walruses have some whopping canines! Both male and female walruses grow long tusks, which help them adapt to Arctic life.

A walrus faces the camera head on, showing off their tusks

These massive, marine mammals use their tall tusks like ski poles, digging them into sand, snow and ice to help them haul their enormous bodies out of the freezing ocean waters! Plus, they’re great for smashing through tough ice from below, creating breathing holes for swimming walruses to catch a breath.

3. Thick layers of blubber protect walruses from the cold

These massive animals don’t carry all that weight around for no reason! The thick layers of blubber (fat) stored beneath their skin helps walruses stay insulated, keeping them warm and protected from cold. In fact, thanks to all that brr-illiant blubber, walruses are able to withstand freezing temperatures, as low as -35°C!

4. Walruses weigh up to 1.5 tonnes!

Even baby walruses are huge! These chunky critters, known as calves, can weigh up to 75kg at birth – that’s the same weight as some adult humans!

A walrus lies sleeping on a rocky beach

5. Their huge size comes from a steady diet of molluscs, crustaceans, and worms!

Walruses grab shellfish like clams from the sea floor, but they also enjoy sea cucumbers and mussels. Adults will sometimes hunt fish, while some huge adult males have even been recording stalking seals.

AMAZING ADAPTATIONS!

Walruses have super sensitive whiskers, which help them detect food at the bottom of the ocean. Once they’ve located a tasty snack, walruses can be surprisingly speedy swimmers, reaching speeds of up to 35km/h to chase down their prey!

6. Walruses can sleep in water!

Sometimes, walruses will forage in places where there’s no nearby ice or land for them to haul themselves out onto for nap. That’s why they have handy ‘pharyngeal pouches – air sacs on their throats that inflate like pillows!

Once their pouches are filled with up to 50 litres of air, walruses can doze off, snoozing in a vertical position and kept safe from drowning by their portable pillow – genius!

7. Walruses can live for up 40 years

Walruses have very few natural predators, and their huge size makes them a challenging opponent! Only an orca or a large polar bear would dare try to take on an adult walrus…

Walrus facts | a polar bear stands across from three walruses, having a look at them

8. These astonishing animals are very sociable, but can be aggressive

A walrus colony is a noisy place! These animals live in large groups, known as herds, which gather together on land. Out of the water, the walruses loudly bellow and snort at one another to communicate!

Walruses hauled out on a beach

During the mating season, male walruses can become very aggressive as they fight for females using their tall tusks. Yikes!

9. Indigenous Americans are the only people allowed to hunt walruses

Sadly, humans are the biggest predator that the walrus has ever faced. During the 1700-1800s, walruses were almost hunted to extinction, as their meat, tusks, oil, and skin were valuable materials.

Now, walrus hunting is illegal for everyone except for indigenous groups like the Inuit, for whom walruses are still a major life resource.

10. Walruses are very sensitive to changes in their environment

Despite their formidable size, walruses are easily spooked! In walrus herds, any sign of danger can cause stampedes as the animals flee land and head towards the safety of water.

A walrus swimming in the water looks around
Thanks to Helene Berger; Kira Phạm; Caterina Sanders and Jay Ruzesky for the images used in this article.

Did you enjoy our wonderful walrus facts? Let us know in the comments below!

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COMMENTS

  • Minaga

  • Haben

    AWESOME

  • Sasi

    Cool!

  • amber Queen

  • nah

    cool

  • Amelie

    That's really cool! My favourite animal under the sea is now a walrus! :-)

  • Oisín

    I really, really, really like the facts

  • great

  • thank

  • nice guy

    I did not know that

  • I did not know that

  • Shanai

    Really good website it has amazing facts and it is amazing for little kids to read so get your laptop and get on this website Shy shy out

  • lulu

    i think that they are very cool my favorite fact was that there tusks can be 90 centermeters long

  • So cool

  • evelyn grewal

    those facts were amazing and most of them i did not know

  • Pancake

    Awesome! Cool stuff! Keep it up!

  • henrik

    I love walruses

  • henrik

    I love walruses

  • HELLO

    HELLO

  • Brian Cox

    Hello, it is Brian Cox here and I want to say to you National Geographic Kids, that I think your 10 Walrus facts are amazing. Keep up the great job guys!

  • bees2021

    thank you for all those wacky walrus facts national geographic kids! I really liked them.

  • Prish shah

    I love it

  • mega2004M

    cool

  • I love it

  • Amazing

  • Nickname

    So cool! Wow!

  • Nickname

    Wow! That is cool!

  • William

    I LOVE the facts

  • Kelley

    There is a lot I didn't know about walruses.

  • cool

  • Zara

    Wow I didn't know the scientific name for a walrus

  • Calarca 13

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