Why are male polar bears afraid of walruses?
Let’s take a look at our two contestants:
– The polar bear, the largest and heaviest living land carnivore on earth, weighs about 450 kg (992 lbs), twice the size of a Siberian tiger or brown bear, probably more.
– The walrus, one of the largest living pinnipeds (ie it’s a seal, from the seal family), is a huge animal weighing around 1000-2000 kg (2204-4409 lbs)! Therefore, it is a huge beast full of fat but well equipped to kill, especially with its huge protruding tusks (present in males and females) that can disembowel an attacking polar bear.
On this basis, it’s no wonder that polar bears, both male and female, no matter how hungry they may be, hesitate before attacking walruses, as these guys aren’t as cute or lazy as they seem. On the contrary, they are huge dangerous mammals equipped with 1 meter long tusks, and can become formidable combatants when threatened. Consequently, walruses have been observed to defend themselves and can fatally and repeatedly stab attacking bears, particularly when predators attack them in the water or are at a disadvantage, resulting in serious injury and even death.
Of course, one large walrus is bad enough, but even that is nothing compared to a whole pack of stamped walruses, a large moving wall of blubber with sharp tusks.
Substantially, when hunting walruses, polar bears prefer to target young calves, weak and sick adults, or individuals who have strayed too far from the safety of the pack, all while avoiding healthy, fully grown pinnipeds. In principle, the bear hunting method consists of running towards the stranded aggregations and attacking a walrus that has been crushed or injured in the sudden exodus.
Another method is to isolate walruses unable to escape a predator by charging them on the ice because their diving holes are inaccessible.
However, even an injured walrus is still a formidable opponent for the polar bear, and that is what makes direct attacks quite rare, and may even force a hungry bear to give up the assault, despite its desperate need. of fat. And that is why polar bears, both male and female, are often afraid of walruses.