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This cinnamon-colored gentle giant is called a walrus. While its size is intimidating it is actually a carnivore. This animal is generally not aggressive and prefers to eat small crustaceans and mollusks. They are among the largest pinnipeds — fin-footed, semi-aquatic marine mammals.
See the fact file below for more information on walrus or alternatively, you can download our 21-page Walrus worksheet pack to utilize within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
THE NEED TO KNOW
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Carnivora
- Family: Odobenidae
- Genus & species: Odobenus rosmarus
- Subspecies: Odobenus rosmarus divergens (Pacific walrus), Odobenus rosmarus laptevi (Laptev walrus), Odobenus rosmarus rosmarus (Atlantic walrus).
- The walrus is a huge, flippered marine mammal with large tusks inhabiting the freezing cold icy waters of the Arctic Circle.
- The walrus is the only living species in the family Odobenidae and genus Odobenus. Odobenidae is a family of pinnipeds, commonly known as seals.
SIZE & APPEARANCE
- Walrus are huge. Adult males can weigh more than 4,400 lb (2,000 kg) and can be 10 ft (3 mt) long.
- Males are about twice as big as females.
- Both sexes have tusks. Males’ tusks are longer and thicker than females’ tusks and can grow up to 1 mt (3 ft) long.
- The tusks are canine teeth and stick out from either side of its mouth. Walrus use their tusks to break through ice, assist in climbing out of the water and onto the ice, and for dredging the seafloor for food.
- Walrus have large, flabby bodies covered in brown or pink skin.
- Short fur covers most of their bodies except for their fins.
- Walruses have extremely thick whiskers that look like a mustache of stiff bristles. These whiskers are very sensitive, helping them find clams, shrimp, crabs, tube worms, and other small invertebrates on the seafloor.
- Younger walrus have dark brown skin, but they get lighter as they get older until they almost turn pink.
HABITAT & DIET
- Walruses are adapted to an environment of sea ice and prefer snow-covered moving pack ice or ice floes to land. (They live in the icy parts of Canada, Greenland, Norway, and Russia).
- Walruses prefer shallow shelf regions where they can forage on the seafloor.
- When not in the water, walrus feed and rest on sea ice platforms.
- In water, walrus can reach a speed of 20 mph (35 km/h), but they prefer a more sedate swim.
- They have triangular-shaped hind flippers. They use these to propel themselves while the front limbs work like rudders for steering.
- When in cold water, walrus contract their outer blood vessels, which reduces blood flow to the skin and blubber. This helps prevent heat loss but also makes the walrus appear almost white.
- The walrus’ favorite food is shellfish, so their preferred diet consists of soft shell crabs, shrimps, clams, worms, and sea cucumbers.
REPRODUCTION & YOUNG
- Males reach sexual maturity around the age of seven but do not typically mate until fully mature at around 15 years of age. They also need to rise to the top of the hierarchy before they can mate.
- The females begin ovulating as early as five years old.
- A female’s gestation period is about 15 months.
- She produces one baby called a calf, and females only give birth every two years or so.
- Calves are born during the spring migration from April to June.
- They weigh 99 to 165 lb (45 to 75 kg) at birth and are gray to brown in color.
- Calves are able to swim immediately and swim alongside their mothers for the first three years of life.
- They turn reddish brown within a few weeks and grow rapidly on their mother’s rich milk.
- A herd is usually segregated by gender, with males and females gathering in their own herds. The dominant males are chosen by age, body size, and tusk length.
- Walruses can live up to 40 years.
- A group of walrus is called a herd or a pod. They gather by the hundreds to sunbathe on ice floes and beaches.
- Walruses have only two natural predators. These are the polar bear and the orca, who prey mainly on calves.
- Despite their size, walrus are quite graceful in the water, and they can stay underwater for long periods, up to 30 minutes.
- Walrus were once hunted, causing their numbers to drop, but since most hunting has stopped, their numbers have recovered and they’re not endangered.
- These mammals are extremely sociable. They bellow loudly and snort at one another. They are, however, aggressive during mating season.
- The walrus plays an important role in the folklore and religion of many Arctic people.
- Skin and bone are used in some ceremonies, and the animal frequently appears in legends.
- Walrus hides can be processed and used to cover boats and are also made into rope.
- The stomach lining is used to make traditional drums by Eskimos.
- Walrus ivory tusks are hand carved into jewelry, handicrafts, and artwork and commercially traded.
This is a fantastic bundle that includes everything you need to know about Walrusacross 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use walrus worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about this cinnamon-colored gentle giant which is called a walrus. While its size is intimidating size and is a carnivore, this animal is generally not aggressive and prefers to eat small crustaceans and mollusks. They are among the largest pinnipeds — fin-footed, semi-aquatic marine mammals.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Walrus Facts
- Quick Quiz
- Gomphotoria Pugnax
- Living Species
- Measured Hierarchy
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a female walrus called?
Female walruses are called cows or females, and a group of them is called a harem. Males are called bulls, and young are called calves.
Can you eat walrus?
The meat, blubber, skin, and organs all are a healthy and rich source of food for Alaskans who hunt and eat walrus for survival. Walrus meat needs to be thoroughly cooked.
Where do walruses sleep?
Walruses can sleep in water or on land. They either float along the surface of the icy water or lie on the bottom surface. They sometimes hook their tusks into an ice floe and sleep that way. Walruses can go for days without sleep.
Do walrus have teeth?
Most walruses have 18 teeth. The two canine teeth in the upper jaw are modified and grow into long ivory tusks. Both males and females have tusks. The tusks of males tend to be longer, straighter, and stouter than those of females.
Do walruses’ tusks grow back if they break?
Walrus’ tusks grow continually. They are the same as the incisors of some other mammals like elephants and rodents. Because they grow continually, they increase in size and weight as the walrus ages.
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Link will appear as Walrus Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, April 25, 2018
Use With Any Curriculum
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