Walrus Socialization

There are many times in the year when the walrus will move away from the ice. They will search for rocky areas where they congregate with large masses of other walruses. They have to migrate a very long distance in order to take part in this though. Most of the time they end up congregating on the icy areas of the water due to the cold temperatures where they live.

Research has shown that the walrus is a very social type of creature. In fact, they interact with each other more than any other type of animal. They are almost always found in large herds no matter what they are doing. It is extremely rare that you will find a walrus by itself. You may find it interesting to learn that the males and females will be in separate herds with the exception of the offspring that are still bonded to their mothers.

There are many forms of socials structure among these herbs. They take place for the entire group but then there are also many subgroups within it. The factors that determine the hierarchy are based on the size of the tusks, the overall size of the walrus, and aggressive measures. Those at the top of the hierarchy are often challenged by those that are at a lower level.

The older a walrus is the longer the tusks will be. The generally stop growing when one is about 15 years of age. It is possible for a walrus tusk to be broken for a variety of reasons. Should this occur, the social ranking of that individual will be significantly reduced.

Walrus social structure.

Walruses in the High Arctic around Svalbard.

The herd that a walrus is in can change many times over the course of its life. It will depend on what is going on with them. For example the offspring will stay with their mothers for approximately two years. Then the males will go with a male herd and the female with a female herd.

During mating season, the females that are in estrus and ready to conceive form a herd separate from those that are pregnant or that aren’t going to be breeding that year. The males that will be mating leave their normal herd to find groups of up to 20 females to mate with. Then they will return to their normal male herd.

Once a female has a baby, she will form with a new herd that all have offspring as well. After her young leaves her she will return to another all female herd until she is ready to mate again. The size of the herds are going to depend on what category that they fit in at any given time. Many of them are known to have hundreds of them in it.

The fact that we do know such communications take place within the social structure of the walrus though doesn’t mean we have it all figured out. There are too many things about the social structure that we don’t know. For example when one moves to another herd or a sub herd for a time, do they get their original status back upon return?

Also, it appears that the males are more aggressive when it comes to their social structure than the females. At the same time though it is believed that there is more structure with the males than with the female herds. The reason for this isn’t really understood so it continues to be something that is observed and evaluated.