The largest species in the weasel family, the wolverine is one of the rarest land-based mammals in the world. In the continental United States, for example, researchers estimate that there are only approximately 300 wolverines. The species is active throughout the year in cold, snowy environments to which it is well adapted because the species does not hibernate. Breed April to October; one litter of 2–4 young each year. Females give birth in dens excavated in snow.
Not only does the wolverine not hibernate in the winter, its body is uniquely built for being a winter predator. Large, snowshoe-like feet keep them from falling through snow drifts and crampon-like claws allow them to climb up and over ice-covered cliffs and environments no matter how steep. Active year-round, intermittently throughout the day. Mostly solitary except when breeding. Wolverines are famous for their ability to cover long distances in an effort to either avoid humans or find prey (or both). One individual wolverine was recorded covering more than 500 miles in 42 days in Yellowstone National Park. On average, wolverines will cover up to 18 miles in one night to find food.
A larger cousin to otters, weasels and mink, the wolverine has a broad head, small eyes and short rounded ears with dark brown fur, and often has a lighter-colored face mask and stripe running down both sides of its body. Typically weighing less than 35 pounds, the wolverine is powerfully built and has short legs with wide feet for traveling across the snow.
30-48 inches (0.7-1.2 m)
14-16 inches (0.3-0.4 m)
Males: 25-55 pounds (11-25 kg), exceptionally large males can weigh more than 70 pounds (32 kg). Females: 15-30 lbs (6-14 kg).
Wolverine has an average life expectancy of 4 to 6 years in the wild, with a maximum of about 13 years.
Den in deep snow, under log jams, and uprooted trees in avalanche chutes. The Wolverine inhabits a variety of habitats in the alpine, tundra, taiga, and boreal forest zones, including coniferous, mixed, and deciduous woodlands, bogs, and open mountain as well as tundra habitats. Snow is generally regarded as an important component of its seasonal habitat requirements. Wolverine habitat selection is negatively affected by human activity, including roads, infrastructure, and backcountry recreation.
Opportunistic eaters. Eat burrowing rodents, birds, eggs, beavers, squirrels, marmots, mice, and vegetation (including whitebark pine nuts); chiefly a scavenger in winter, but has also been known to take large prey such as deer, elk, and moose.
SIGNS OF PRESENCE:
Extremely wary of humans, wolverines are rarely ever seen. Additionally, wolverines eat the bones of their recent kills making detection even more complicated. Aside from tracks, prints and fecal droppings, signs of wolverine presence are difficult. The most clear sign of a wolverine nearby is by the ferocious sound they make, especially when fighting. Distinctive for both its loud volume and aggressive snarl, the wolverine call is a bad thing for hikers or researchers to hear if they are alone in a particularly remote location because wolverines are very protective of their feeding areas and dens.
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