Wolverine

Gulo gulo

Click to view a larger image. Click to view a larger image. mammal mammal

Museum specimen featured in the Wild exhibition
Source: Museum Victoria

Wolverine
Image: D. Robert Franz
Source: Corbis

Type: mammal

Wolverine Wolverine
Image: D. Robert Franz
Source: Corbis

Conservation Status

Secure Vulnerable Endangered Extinct  ]

Wolverines require a range between 200 and 500 square kilometres. Encroaching roads, development and agriculture interrupt these areas and bring Wolverines in contact with people. Since the early 1900s, Wolverine populations have declined significantly because of trapping, hunting and poisoning. Because it lives in arctic regions, there is a high risk of disruption to this species from climate change.

WHAT THEY EAT

carnivore

Wolverines are carnivores.

They prey on hares, rodents, deer and sheep, and also eat carrion.

HOW BIG THEY ARE

Wolverine relative size depiction as described below

Size relative to a cat and a woman.

Weight:
average 10–25 kg
Length:
body 66–87 cm,
tail 17–27 cm

Amazing Wolverines

Wolverines are formidable hunters and scavengers, and are among the largest members of the weasel family. With a reputation for aggression and fearlessness, these strong, stocky animals are the top predators in some areas of in their range. They look rather like a small bear with a long tail.

The long, dense fur of Wolverines has a water-repellent quality that helps the animals survive in rain, ice and snow. Their coats are dark reddish-brown with yellowish stripes down each side. Other adaptations to their cold environment include small ears and large, flat, five-toed paws for walking in snow. 

Wolverines live and hunt alone and largely avoid each other. They will eat anything they can catch or scavenge, and can crush bone and carry large chunks of meat in their strong jaws. They are mostly nocturnal but may be active at dusk and dawn. Males are up to 30 per cent larger than females. Wolverines live for around four to six years in the wild.

After mating, the fertilised embryo is not immediately implanted, but is delayed for six months. Female Wolverines build a snow den for their young and give birth to up to six kits between February and April. Mother Wolverines care for their young until they are weaned.

Did You Know?

Wolverines

  • are not related to wolves but are actually a type of weasel
  • have a strong odour, and are sometimes called ‘Skunk Bears’
  • have a special tooth that allows them to eat frozen flesh

WHERE THEY LIVE

Wolverine distribution map

Wolverines live in Canada, China, Estonia, Finland, Mongolia, Norway, Russian Federation, Sweden and the United States. They are found in a range of habitats in the cold, snowy regions of the northern hemisphere, including forest, tundra, mountain and open woodlands.

OTHER ANIMALS

Other animals from the Nearctic

Wood DuckAmerican Black BearGreat Horned OwlAmerican Beaver

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