Mustelidae family

The wolverine is not related to the wolf or the bear. It is the largest member of the weasel family.

Gerald and Buff Corsi  California Academy of Sciences

This animal is found in Alaska and Canada's northern region as well as western Canada. In the US it is found at higher elevations in northern Washington, northwestern Montana, southcentral Idaho and northwestern Wyoming. ( MAP )

Wolverines prefer remote boreal forests, taiga, and tundra.

The wolverine eats mice, rats and other small mammals, birds and eggs. In winter, when snow covers the ground, it eats reindeer and other large prey.

Often it lets other animals do the hunting. Then it chases the hunter away by showing its teeth and growling fiercely. Then the wolverine is left to eat the kill.

The wolverine uses its large teeth and powerful jaws to crush large bones and eat frozen meat.

Gerald and Buff Corsi  California Academy of Sciences

It will fight other wolverines to defend its territory.

Like the skunk, it has a strong-smelling fluid called musk
which it uses to warn others to stay away.

Steve Kroschel, USFW, public domain

The thick coat of brown fur protects it from the freezing cold temperatures. Its large feet help it move across the soft snow. There are five long sharp claws on each foot. The claws are used for climbing and digging.

DIAGRAM of a wolverine

Wolverines are not fast movers, so they do not chase or stalk their prey. But they are good climbers and often rest in trees. They pounce on their prey from trees or rocks.

The female has one litter every two or three years. She digs a den with tunnels in a snowdrift that is near piles of rocks. Two or three "kits" are born.

Wolverines can live up to 13 years. They are not yet an endangered species, but their numbers are declining. Russia, Canada and Alaska have the largest population of wolverine.

News release - Dec.2010 - Wolverine is to be Designated a Candidate for Endangered Species Protection in the United States (except in the state of Alaska where there the wolverine numbers are stable).


photo credits:
Images 1 and 2 - Gerald and Buff Corsi California Academy of Sciences; Manzanita Project
wolverine in the snow - photo by Steve Kroschel, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; public domain
information - Hinterland Who's Who - Canadian Wildlife Service - the Wolverine

updated August 2011

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