Wolverine is a weasel predator. One of the largest in the family, along with the badger, sea otter and otter. In appearance, the wolverine is very similar to the brown bear, only of a smaller size. Wolverine is so brave that it attacks even an exhausted elk or reindeer, which are several times larger.
Appearance and features
The wolverine is considered to be quite large. Females can weigh up to 22 lb (10 kg) and males up to 33 lb (15 kg). There are specimens of 44 lb (20 kg) each. The body of a wolverine is 27 to 37 in (70 to 95 cm) long, excluding the tail. The tail itself is quite fluffy and has a length of 7 to9 in (18 to 23 cm). The growth of a wolverine reaches half a meter.
The body of the animal is very strong, powerful, stocky with well-developed muscles. The paws of the animal are also powerful, dense, each has five fingers, the area of the feet is extensive, the claws are long and curved. Thanks to this, the wolverine, like an all-terrain vehicle, can overcome any snowdrifts and pass where others cannot get through. It is worth noting that her hind legs are much longer than the front ones, so the whole silhouette seems to be hunched over.
The head of the animal is large with a slightly elongated muzzle, the ears of the wolverine are neat, rounded, the eyes are also small, black, like the tip of a nose. The teeth of the beast are very decent in size and even with razor-sharp edges. This is the main weapon in the hunt. The jaws of the beast are powerful, they can easily gnaw through even very frozen remains.
The dense and shaggy brown wool perfectly protects the wolverine in the cold and damp northern climate. The animal is not afraid of either severe frosts or huge snowdrifts. Solid paws overcome any snow obstacles. The wolverine digs large tunnels in the snow, making his way to his hidden storerooms with supplies, and it can also hide in the thickness of a snowdrift for several days.
Wolverine is a northern animal that lives in Northern Eurasia and North America. Prefers taiga, forest-tundra and places where there are many trees and various bushes. Occasionally found on the Arctic coast. In general, the wolverine is attracted by the area where the number of wild animals is quite large.
What does a wolverine eat?
Both small and rather large animals become prey for wolverines. The diet is very rich and varied, the animal is not picky about food. The wolverine is very hardy and can chase its prey for a long time, depriving it of its last strength. There were cases when a wolverine defeated a large elk stuck in a snowdrift. Wolverine is not shy about collecting carrion after other predatory animals.
Wolverines run quite leisurely, but they differ in endurance. Having tracked down prey, the wolverine is capable of pursuit for a long time.Quite often, wolverines wait for their prey, sitting in ambush, and suddenly attack the approaching animal. In summer, wolverines feed on lemmings and other small animals, and also willingly eat birds nesting on the ground and their eggs. In winter, the wolverines decide to attack the reindeer, weakened by hunger. Wolverine kills a deer by climbing on its back and gnawing at its throat. From the body of the killed prey, the wolverine pulls out very large pieces of meat, part of which it devours, and hides the rest. Wolverine can even drive a bear away from prey.
Wolverine lifestyle and character traits
Wolverine can be called a loner and a nomad, never sitting in one place and traveling tens of miles a day in search of food. The animal does not move too fast, but without stopping. Zoologists have noticed cases when the wolverine ran more than 40 miles (70 km) without stopping. Wolverine’s tagged territory can be up to 240 square miles. Males do not tolerate other males invading their property.
The wolverine does not have a permanent home. The animal spends the night anywhere: between the roots of large trees, in hollows, in crevices of rocks and just in a snowdrift. Only when the wolverine prepares to become a mother, then builds something like a bear den.
Social structure and reproduction of wolverines
The mating season in wolverines is very extended from April to October, but reaches the highest intensity in May-June. During this period, the animals declare a temporary truce and are looking for partners. Pregnancy in the female occurs with a delay of several months. Due to the existence of a latent stage of pregnancy, wolverine cubs are born at the most suitable time of the year at the end of winter.The female gives birth to 2 to 4 cubs. A caring mother feeds them with her milk for up to 3 months, then begins to introduce semi-digested meat into their diet.
Towards the middle of the summer period, the grown-up cubs get out of the den and walk on the heels of the mother, who teaches them to constant transitions and instills the skills of searching for prey. Children live with their mother until they are two years old, then scatter in search of their territory, where they lead an isolated and independent lifestyle. In natural, harsh, natural conditions, the wolverine is able to live up to 10 years, in captivity it lives much longer (up to 17 years).
The wolverine has few enemies in the wild. These include predators such as wolves, lynxes, bears. But they rarely attack the wolverine, trying to avoid meeting. It’s all about the specific aroma that the wolverine emits in order not only to designate the territory, to lure an individual of the opposite sex, but also to scare away the enemy. Wolverine attacks people very rarely, in extreme cases, when it defends itself, while emitting something like a fox bark.
Population and status of the species
The number of the wolverine population, unfortunately, is steadily decreasing, these amazing animals remain fewer
and fewer. The reason for this is not one factor, but their combination. First, it’s hunting. The value of the animal’s skin is very high, it costs much more than sable. Excellent hats, collars, muffs and other clothes are sewn from it. Even in severe frost, wolverine skins are not covered with hoarfrost. Previously, it was not easy to catch the beast, because it can pass where people cannot, now, thanks to snowmobiles, it is much easier to do this, so poachers often do not know the measure. Secondly, the unfavorable ecological situation, the proliferation of urban districts significantly reduce the habitat of the animal, which leads to a decrease in its number. Thirdly, various diseases (especially rabies) destroy the wolverine on a huge scale due to the fact that the wolverine feeds on the infected meat of dead animals. Wolverine is considered vulnerable in most areas; some populations of this predator are endangered. Only in North America is wolverine abundance relatively stable and not a cause for concern.
The American Indians considered this beast to be the personification of intelligence, extraordinary cunning and unsurpassed caution. In addition, one should not forget about the role of the wolverine, which brings such colossal benefits not only to all forest inhabitants, but also to people.