Chances are if all the Arctic animals were to have a beauty contest, the walrus would not win. One looks at this giant seal with elephant tusks and wonders what went astray. Just check out some pictures of walruses and you will get the idea. In all actuality, the walrus is designed to survive in the Arctic. Every odd feature has a purpose.
Walruses spend their entire life in freezing weather. They swim among the the ice flows and spend time sunbathing on a bed of ice. It is clear that their bodies are created with some special adaptations to stay warm.
One of the first things you might notice is the immense size of the walrus. There is a layer of fat called blubber that helps to keep the walrus at a constant temperature of about 99 degrees Fahrenheit. Most of the blubber is on the chest and belly of the animal. This layer of blubber can be up to 6 inches thick. It helps them stay warm, it cushions them as they walk around on ice and land.
The walruses diet helps to create that layer of insulation. Their favorite food is shell fish, which they typically find at the bottom of the sea. They have whiskers to help them find the food they need in these very dark regions. If the walruses do not get enough food, they can not stay warm.
A walrus has very thick skin to help them stay warm in the Arctic. The skin of the walrus is about 1 ½ inches thick.
When the walruses come out of the water to sun on the ice, they pack together as closely as they can. The body heat is greater when they are huddled together.
Another thing that helps the walruses stay warm is the way their ears function. Extremities like fingers, earlobes and toes get cold and are places where humans first get frostbite. The ears of a walrus is just a small hole with no extremities to get cold. Fewer appendages mean the walruses stay warmer.
About 12 percent of the weight of a walrus is blood. The walrus needs a lot of blood to help deliver proteins and oxygen to muscles. They spend a great deal of time underwater and the extra blood helps to accommodate breathing, circulation and warmth.
Although a walrus would not win a beauty contest, once you understand how well made they are to survive in their element, you cannot help but admire these giant creatures.