What Adaptations Do Walruses Have?


The most prominent adaptations of walruses are their tusks, which they use for many purposes. Other adaptations include sensitive whiskers, which help them locate food, and the blubber under their thick skins, which provides energy and protects them against the arctic cold.

Both male and female walruses have prominent canine teeth called tusks, which can extend up to 3 feet long and weigh up to 12 pounds. Walruses use their tusks to crack breathing holes in ice sheets and pull themselves out of the water and along the ice. Walrus bulls also use tusks as weapons when they battle one another for territory and to protect harems of females.

Walruses have small eyes and poor vision, so their vibrissae, or whiskers, are imperative in locating the mollusks, sea cucumbers, crabs and worms that they mainly depend on for food. The vibrissae are not mere bristles but have blood and nerves and are attached to muscles.

With their muzzles down, walruses use their back flippers to propel themselves along as they skim the sediment on the sea floor. With their lips and gums, they remove the soft meat from their prey and expel the shells. Though walruses do not usually eat fish, their size and weight enable them to prey on small seals occasionally.