Walrus vs Elephant Seal: 5 Key Differences

Written by August Buck
Published: February 25, 2022
Image Credit Inge Jansen/Shutterstock.com
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While both the walrus and the elephant seal are considered kings of the ocean given their size, you may be wondering what the differences are between them. When it comes to comparing a walrus vs elephant seal, their unique appearances and size differences often make it obvious which one is which.

In this article, we will take a look at all of these differences, including the variety of habitats and preferences that both of these creatures have. Not only are walruses extremely different from elephant seals, they also have a few things in common! Let’s dive in and learn more about them now.

Comparing Walrus vs Elephant Seal

walrus vs elephant seal
Walruses are members of the Odobenus genus, while elephant seals are members of the Mirounga genus.

A-Z-Animals.com

WalrusElephant Seal
GenusOdobenusMirounga
Size and Weight7-12 feet long; 800-4,000 pounds10-16 feet long; 2,000-6,000 pounds
AppearanceLarge tusks and whiskered face; gray or brown skin that turns pinkLarge eyes and distinct nose; tan or gray hair and flippers with nails
Lifespan40-50 years18-22 years
LocationArctic CircleWorldwide

Key Differences Between Walrus vs Elephant Seal

walrus vs elephant seal
Walruses live in the frigid seas of the Arctic Circle, while elephant seals can be found worldwide in a variety of habitats.

Mikhail Cheremkin/Shutterstock.com

There are many key differences between a walrus vs elephant seal. Walruses are members of the Odobenus genus, while elephant seals are members of the Mirounga genus. Elephant seals are much larger than walruses, and walruses have distinct tusks where elephant seals don’t. The geographical locations and lifespans of walruses and elephant seals differ greatly as well.

Let’s take a look at some of these differences in detail now.

Walrus vs Elephant Seal: Location and Genus

walrus vs elephant seal
Walruses are covered in a tough skin with sparse coarse hair, while elephant seals have a thin layer of brown or gray hair covering their entire body.

creativex/Shutterstock.com

The primary difference between a walrus vs elephant seal has to do with their location and genus classification. Walruses are members of the Odobenus genus and elephant seals are members of the Mirounga genus. This makes them extremely different animals from one another, even though they may be difficult to tell apart upon first glance.

Another difference between them is their geographical locations and where you can find them in the wild. Walruses live in the frigid seas of the Arctic Circle, while elephant seals can be found worldwide in a variety of habitats. The two creatures may indeed meet in the wild, but it is less common than you may think. 

Walrus vs Elephant Seal: Physical Appearance

walrus vs elephant seal
Elephant seals do not have tusks, while walruses always do.

Inge Jansen/Shutterstock.com

Another difference between a walrus vs elephant seal is their physical appearance. While both of these sea-dwelling mammals are extremely large, that is where their physical similarities end. Walruses are covered in a tough skin with sparse coarse hair, while elephant seals have a thin layer of brown or gray hair covering their entire body. 

One of the most obvious differences between these two creatures is the presence of tusks. Elephant seals do not have tusks, while walruses always do. Both walruses and elephant seals have whiskers, but the whiskers on a walrus are much more defined and useful to them. Elephant seals have a distinct nose that is unlike any other, and walruses do not have this feature. 

Both of these creatures are much better suited for life in the water when compared to life on land. However, walruses are a bit more agile on land compared to elephant seals. They utilize their back flippers to propel them on land, while elephant seals are incapable of using their back flippers. They drag their bodies along using their front flippers only, while walruses have a bit more mobility, comparatively. 

Walrus vs Elephant Seal: Size and Weight

walrus vs elephant seal
Elephant seals have a distinct nose that is unlike any other, and walruses do not have this feature.

Brocken Inaglory / Creative Commons

While both of these creatures are extremely large, elephant seals far outweigh walruses. Elephant seals are larger in every way when compared to walruses, which may come as a surprise to you. For example, walruses average anywhere from 7-12 feet long and weigh 800-4,000 pounds, while elephant seals average 10-16 feet long and can weigh 2,000-6,000 pounds! 

Walrus vs Elephant Seal: Lifespan

walrus vs elephant seal
Walruses average anywhere from 7-12 feet long and weigh 800-4,000 pounds, while elephant seals average 10-16 feet long and can weigh 2,000-6,000 pounds!

Max Smith – Public Domain

Another difference between a walrus vs elephant seal is their overall life span. Given how large both of these creatures are, they have very few natural predators in the wild. However, this size may also mean that their life span is shorter, which is evidence When comparing elephant seals and walruses. Let’s talk more about what this means now.

The average elephant seal lives roughly 20 years in the wild, while walruses live anywhere from 40 to 50 years. The large size of elephant seals likely has something to do with their shorter life span, but these creatures are also less likely to defend themselves when compared to walruses. Walruses are extremely aggressive oh, and have capable tusks that they use to defend themselves. The main predators for walruses are humans, while elephant seals are frequently attacked by killer whales. 

Walrus vs Elephant Seal: Reproduction

walrus vs elephant seal
The average elephant seal lives roughly 20 years in the wild, while walruses live anywhere from 40 to 50 years.

Mike Baird / Creative Commons

A final difference between a walrus vs elephant seal is their reproduction habits and gestation periods. For example, a female elephant seal will give birth after 11 months, while a female walrus needs 15 months before giving birth. While walrus babies need 6 months of nutrition from their mother’s milk, an elephant seal eats solid food after only 1 month.

A mother walrus is also extremely protective of her young, while an elephant seal mother leaves her young on their own once they have reached a month old. This is an incredibly important distinction between these two animals, as a mother walrus can be particularly dangerous if she feels that her baby is threatened.

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