Wolverine Information

(Gulo Gulo)

Wolverine: (Gulo Gulo) - glutton

AKA: skunk bear, devil bear, woods devil, carcajou

Order: Carnivora

Family: Mustelidai - They are the largest terrestrial member of this family which includes the mink and weasel. The sea otter is the largest member of this family at nearly twice the size.

Body: Weight ranges from 15 to 45 pounds with males generally larager than females with average weight around 30 pounds. They generally stand 15 to 18 inches at shoulder with their hind ends being higher, and are usually 3.5 to 4.5 feet long. They have broad, flat heads, with black muzzles, small black ears, and beady dark eyes. The wolverine has powerful jaws and large teeth that enable it to crush bones and eat frozen carrion. Their fur is long and dense and is usually dark brown to black, with a creamy white or gold streak running along their entire side. They have low slung, stocky bodies with powerful legs and a bushy skunk-like tail. Their feet are relatively large and each has five non-retractable, curved claws.

Diet: Wolverines are opportunistic scavengers and as such will eat almost anything that they can find or kill. During the winter, they primarily eat remains of larger mammals killed by man, other animals, or natural causes. They generally feed on smaller mammals or birds throughout the year, but will also eat berries and other vegitation. Their reputation as hunters is somewhat of an exaggeration because they are really too slow to catch larger mammals like moose, caribou, goat, or sheep, however they can surprise young ungulates on occassion. They will vigorously defend their food if challenged.

Range: The Wolverine has almost vanished from most of the eastern US and Canada but still has strongholds in the sub-arctic and arctic western US and Canada. They are sparce even where they are still present and are rarely seen. They require vast wilderness expanses to survive as their home ranges are rather large. An adult male will range over areas up to 240 square miles, while a female will range from 50 to 100 square miles. Most males will not overlap ranges however a single male’s range can include up to six females ranges. They can be active throughout the day and can roam up to 40 miles in a day looking for food.

Life History: A baby wolverine kit is born between January and April usually in a snow cave. These snow caves consist of one or two tunnels up to 60 yards long. A normal litter consists of one to three kits. They are born blind and weighing less than one pound, however they quickly develop and are weaned at around 8 weeks. They leave their mothers at 5 to 6 months of age to begin their solitary lives and by one year of age they have basically reached their adult size. By their second year they are sexually mature, and breeding occurres between May and August. This is the only time that wolverines are together. Wolverines exhibit a process called delayed implantation in which after mating, the embryo floats freely in the uterus until the end of fall or the start of winter. This allows the female to actually become pregnant when she is the strongest and food supply is high. The availability of food during the winter will determine if the pregnancy is carried to term and the number of kits in the litter. The average adult seems to live between 5 to 7 years with a maximal age of around 13.




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