Walruses live around the North Pole in the Arctic Ocean and the cold seas surrounding it. They belong to the pinnipeds category of creatures, commonly known as seals, which are defined as semi-aquatic, carnivorous mammals, that have fins.
Walruses are classed as Odobenus and are the only surviving genera of the wider Odobenidae family. In the past, there were many other species in the Odobenidae family that shared similar characteristics with the modern-day walrus.
What do walruses eat?
Walruses eat mollusks and crustaceans, like clams and shrimp. Walruses also feed on invertebrates such as sea cucumbers, cephalopods, and other soft-bodied sea creatures.
Adult walruses are easily recognized by their prominent tusks, which are actually long teeth that have grown outside of their mouth, much like the ‘horn’ of a Narwhal. They also have distinctive whiskers on their faces.
What do walruses eat does not actually have much effect on their size. Their bodies are surrounded by thick blubber, not as they are overweight, but as it keeps them warm as they sit on the cold sea ice of the Arctic. Male walruses can weigh more than 4,000 Ibs and are only exceeded in size by adult male elephant seals
The indigenous peoples of the Arctic have long hunted the walrus for its meat, hide, bone and tusks. Populations of walruses have dropped rapidly all around the Arctic region due to global warming and increased human activity on the sea ice, such as oil exploration and international shipping.
What do walruses eat can be summarised as mollusks and crustaceans, like clams and shrimp. They will also feed on invertebrates such as sea cucumbers, cephalopods, and other soft-bodied sea creatures.
Occasionally, a walrus may prey on fish, but their general diet consists of invertebrates, crustaceans, and mollusks. Walruses are bottom-feeders, using their snout to rifle through the seabed to retrieve their food source.
Researchers have found numerous pebbles and small stones in the stomachs of walruses. These are thought to be ingested while feeding.
Very rarely, the answer to what do walruses eat may be given as seals. In general, walruses will not attack or kill seals themselves, except when food is scarce.
However, there are some walruses that are known to eat regularly eat small seals, by crushing them with their body weight and feasting on their blubber.
What is a predator of walruses?
Now that we know what do walruses eat, what of the predators that prowl the Arctic to feed on the walrus itself? As walruses are so big in size and have a great weapon in their giant tusks, there are not many predators that can take on this mighty creature.
Orcas, sometimes known as killer whales, will regularly hunt walruses. Killer whales have several methods of hunting walrus. They may use their nose to tip the sea ice it sits on, so that the walrus is forced into the water for the orca to then attack, or they may swim into the shallow surf to snatch walruses from near the shoreline.
As orca’s hunt in packs, they work together to surround a walrus in the water, snapping at it with their strong jaws.
Do polar bears eat walrus?
Polar bears feed on mainly young walrus calves, hunting them on the sea ice as opposed to in the water. They also tend to feed on weak, ill, or isolated walrus, using their claws and teeth to bite and scratch at its neck or thick hide, until the creature can no longer breathe, or bleeds excessively and cannot find the strength to escape.