Walrus Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

Walruses are large animals with tusks that live on sea ice and beaches. Keep reading to learn about walruses, like where they live, what they like to eat and how they use those tusks.

What is a Walrus?

Imagine that you're way up north, near the north pole, and you're floating along in a boat through bitterly cold water. You notice some large animals with tusks relaxing on a sheet of ice, and they don't seem to notice how cold it is at all. They are enjoying some time in the sun while you are freezing. You've just seen walruses!

A walrus is a large, reddish brown animal that lives both on land and in the water in cold northern areas. Walruses have tusks, whiskers, and flippers.

Walruses have reddish brown skin and tusks
Walrus with Reddish Brown Skin and Tusks

Walruses really like hanging out with other walruses, which is why they live in herds (groups of walruses) that can have thousands of members.

Watch Out for Those Tusks!

Their tusks, which are actually large teeth, keep growing as long as the walrus is alive, and can get as long as 3 feet! Both males and females have them and use them to dig into the ice and pull themselves out of the water, just like a mountain climber might use an ice axe to help pull herself up a mountain. They also use their tusks to punch holes in the ice so they can breathe when they are swimming. Male walruses use their tusks to fight other males for territory.

Their tusks aren't just for punching, pulling and fighting, however. In order to be the leader of the herd, a walrus has to be one of the biggest, most assertive walruses, and also have the longest tusks. Smaller walruses whose tusks aren't very big or are broken have to follow the leader, not be one.

What do Walruses Eat?

Walruses are carnivores, which means they eat meat. They like to search out snacks like clams, worms, snails, squid, fish, octopuses and sometimes seals.

They go out into the water in smaller groups, instead of as one large herd, to look for food so that everyone has a chance to find dinner.

Walruses have between 400 and 700 whiskers, which can grow up to 12 inches long. They use their whiskers by dragging them along the floor of the sea to find food.

This walrus has worn its whiskers down to stubble on the sea floor.
Walrus with Whiskers

They can dive around 300 feet down and stay underwater for as long as 30 minutes at a time while dragging their whiskers and looking for food.

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