Your hunt for the wolverine animal facts or wolverine facts for kids ends here! Did you know, wolverine is not really related to the dog family despite the name suggesting so?
And yes, its characteristics are nowhere even close to that of the wolverine of X-Men! This animal is slow and has short legs. That’s not how you imagined a wolverine to be, right?
Anyway, since your mental image of a wolverine has shattered now, let us take a look at the wolverine animal facts and find out what they really are! In case you are looking for wolverine facts for kids, scroll down to fact number 69!
Wolverine Animal Facts: Classification
Wolverine Animal Facts: Name | 1-5
1. Wolverine is the largest animal species on land that belongs to the Mustelidae family.
2. Wolverine is also spelled as Wolverene. This is not the only name this wild beast has. Glutton, Carcajou, Skunk bear, Quickhatch are also the names of the wolverine.
3. In Norway, it was called “fjellfross” (mountain cat). From Fjellfross it changed and Germans called the wolverine as Vielfraß (glutton).
4. Other European languages named the animal on the similar lines of Germans, calling the animal “glutton”.
5. The animal was named wolverine because it reminded them of a little wolf (that’s weird). The word wolvering is the earlier form of the word wolverine. The origin of the word wolvering is not known.
Wolverine Animal Facts: Species and Ancestry | 6-10
6. Wolverine is closely related to the tayra (belongs to weasel family) and martens (belongs to the Mustelidae family).
7. There are two subspecies of wolverine. They are:
Gulo gulo gulo from the Old World (Asia, Europe and Africa combined is called Old World).
Gulo gulo luscus from the New World (North America, South America, Australia and regions present near Australia combined are referred to as the New World).
8. However, some scientists note 4 more subspecies in North America, two of which are:
Gulo gulo vancouverensis – It is limited to Vancouver Island.
Gulo gulo katschemakensis – It is limited to Kenai Peninsula.
9. Present accepted taxonomy recognizes the 2 continental subspecies (Gulo gulo gulo and Gulo gulo luscus) or the species Gulo gulo as a Holarctic taxon (Holarctic is a biogeographical region which includes the Arctic, North America, North Africa, entire Europe, northern parts of Asia, North Mexico etc.)
10. Recent genetic studies prove that the wolverines of North America came via Beringia during the last glaciation period.
Wolverine Animal Facts: Physical Appearance | 11-16
11. Wolverine is a small, muscular and stocky animal. It has a broad and rounded head. It has small eyes, and small rounded ears.
12. It resembles more to a bear compared to any other species of the family Mustelidae.
13. Its legs are short. However, with its large paws which contains five claws each and its plantigrade posture (placing toes and metatarsals flat on the ground and that is the way humans walk), it can climb cliffs, trees, peaks covered with snow, etc. without any difficulty.
14. The adult is nearly the size of a dog. It is anywhere between 65 centimeters to 107 centimeters long, It has a weight of 5.5 to 25 kilograms (some males can weigh as much as 32 kilograms), and a height of 17 centimeters to 25 centimeters.
15. Females are 30% smaller than males and their weight is nearly half of that of males.
16. The average weight of females is 10.1 kilograms and for males it is 15.3 kilograms in Canada region. However, in Alaska the average weight of 10 males was 16.7 kilograms and average of 2 females was 9.6 kilograms.
Wolverine Animal Facts: Physical Appearance | 17-23
17. Likewise, the weights of the males and females vary with geographical variation.
18. It is believed that Eurasian wolverines are larger and heavier than the North American counterparts.
19. Their fur is thick, oily and dark. The fur is hydrophobic meaning it doesn’t get wet when it comes in contact with water. The fur being hydrophobic, it is resistant to frost as well.
20. A silvery facial mask or some white patches of fur is present in some wolverines.
21. It has anal scent glands. It releases pungent smell which earned the wolverine its name “nasty cat” and “skunk bear”.
22. Wolverine has upper molars which are rotated 90 degrees (with respect to the other teeth) situated in the back of its mouth.
23. This characteristic is present in other mustelids as well. This one feature helps them to tear the frozen meat.
Wolverine Animal Facts: Habitat, Distribution and Home Range | 24-28
24. Wolverine is a solitary animal. It lives in the arctic, boreal and alpine regions i.e., they are widely seen in Siberia, Alaska, Fennoscandia, European Russia, Russian Far East, Baltic countries, Mongolia, etc.
25. Their presence in states like Michigan, Sierra Nevada, Washington is seen in the recent times again.
26. At present, the New World wolverines are present in Canada and Alaska.
27. The wolverine has a big home range. Male wolverine’s home range is around 620 square kilometers and female wolverine’s home range is around 130 to 260 square kilometers.
28. A male’s range consists of multiple ranges of females (owing to the smaller home ranges of female wolverines).
Wolverine Animal Facts: Habitat, Distribution and Home Range | 29-32
29. The home ranges of both males and females mostly don’t overlap with the home ranges of the same sex.
30. The home ranges are marked with the help of anal scent glands. The scent is used for sexual signaling and marking territory.
31. In the month of February, female wolverines burrow into snow to make dens which can be used during childbirth and till the kits (kids of wolverine) wean.
32. Wolverines don’t inhabit few areas which are called snowmelts. Snowmelt is an area where the runoff is produced due to the melting snow.
Wolverine Animal Facts: Reproduction, Kits and Lifespan | 33-37
33. Males form lifelong relationships with either two or three female wolverines. The male which forms the relationship occasionally meets the females.
34. Wolverine mates in summer months. However, implantation of embryo in the uterus takes place only in early winter.
35. Females generally delay the implantation till early winter. They may even delay the implantation if the food is scarce.
36. Gestation period lasts for about 30 to 50 days. Two to three kits are born in a litter. They are born in the spring. They are weaned at 10 weeks of age in mid-May.
37. Kits, when born, weigh only few grams of weight, are around 5 inches long and they have snow-white fur.
Wolverine Animal Facts: Reproduction, Kits and Lifespan | 38-42
38. At around 6 weeks their fur starts getting darker and they develop varied and unique patterns of color of fur on their chest, face and neck.
39. Kits develop pretty quickly and become adults by the time they turn one year. The kits reach sexual maturity at the age of 2 years.
40. Lifespan of a wolverine is generally 15 to 17 years in captivity and 8 to 10 years in the wild.
41. Fathers and kits share a harmless relationship. Fathers meet with their kits till they are weaned, when they are six months old.
42. Some kits may connect with their fathers and travel with them for some time.
Wolverine Animal Facts: Hunting and Eating Habits | 43-47
43. Wolverine is an omnivore (eats both plants and animals) and an opportunistic hunter or primary scavenger, meaning it feeds on corpses.
44. It is called primary scavenger because carrion (decaying meat) is the primary source of food for a wolverine during winter months and early spring.
45. Wolverines may find carrion by themselves or take it from other predators by force, or eat the leftovers after the main predator (which actually killed the prey) leaves.
46. They follow trails of lynx and wolves so that they can scavenge on the leftovers.
47. Whether it is carrion or a live prey, they eat voraciously hence the name “glutton” which is also the basis of its scientific name.
Wolverine Animal Facts: Hunting and Eating Habits | 48-52
48. Some say that gluttony is an adaptation of scarcity of food during winter.
49. Though they scavenge, their predatory skills cannot be taken for granted. Wolverines are extremely strong for their size just like most of the species in their family.
50. Small to medium sized animals become prey to wolverines. It must be noted that they have the capacity to kill prey larger than their size.
51. Porcupines, chipmunks, beavers, moles, voles, shrews, roe deer, lemmings, mule deer, goats, moose, squirrels, elk etc., are some of the few preys of wolverine.
52. Smaller animals like mink, foxes, coyote, Eurasian lynx, wolf pups, martens etc., also become prey sometimes.
Wolverine Animal Facts: Hunting and Eating Habits | 53-57
53. Wolverine is a very shrewd animal. It preys on the animals which are caught in trap, newborn animals or juveniles, weak or immobilized animals.
54. It also feeds on birds, their eggs, roots, berries, seeds, larvae of insects etc.
55. Old World wolverines are more active in hunting and catching prey than New World wolverines.
56. As said earlier, wolverine follows the trails of wolves for the prey. Hence, the population of wolves effects the population of wolverines.
57. They cache the prey when the prey is plenty. This caching is seen particularly in females during winter (pregnancy time) and early spring (childbirth time).
Wolverine Animal Facts: Predators, Threat and Conservation Status | 58-65
58. Wolves, the ones that give them food (indirectly though), are the ones who are natural predators of wolverines.
59. Wolves forced the wolverines to abandon the areas which were usually common to them.
60. Wolverines defend their preys from other larger predators like wolves, mountain lion, bears etc.
61. Grey wolf is the greatest predator of wolverine in both Eurasia (Old World) and North America (New World).
62. There are accounts of bears killing and eating wolverines. There is a different account of a wolverine killing a polar bear, but this may be false.
63. The exact population of wolverine remains unknown all over the world. As of today, IUCN lists wolverine as Least Concern (LC).
64. Humans are the biggest threat to wolverines. Hunting, trapping, human development etc. are some of the main causes of the decreasing numbers of wolverine. Climate change is another reason which threatens the population of wolverines.
65. We said that the fur of wolverine is resistant of water and frost. Humans hunt wolverines for their fur that is used as lining in parkas (type of jacket with a hood) and jacket.
Wolverine Animal Facts: In Culture of North America | 66-68
66. University of Michigan uses wolverine as its mascot. Michigan is actually known as “the Wolverine State”.
67. George Armstrong Custer, who led Michigan Brigade during American Civil War, called Detroiters and Michigan Brigade the “Wolverines”. However, irony is that wolverines are rare in the state of Michigan.
68. Mythology of Innu people of Labrador and Québec uses the images of wolverine prominently. In a myth of Innu people, wolverine is considered as the creator of the world.
Wolverine Facts for Kids: 69-73
69. Wolverines can run up to 30 miles an hour or 50 kilometers an hour.
70. Here is one of the fun wolverine facts for kids: the teeth of wolverine are so strong that they can easily munch on the bones.
71. They are so hungry that just few hours after the meal, they start hunting again. It is quite living up to its name, isn’t it?
72. Female wolverines can dig dens as deep as 4.5 meters.
73. Wolverines’ claws are sharp and they use their claws for digging (either for food or dens) and they use them to climb trees. However, they are not good climbers.
Wolverine Facts for Kids: 74-78
74. The wolverines also uses the stench of its anal glands to protect its food from other predators.
75. Though this amazing beast is extremely aggressive it doesn’t have that great bite force when compared pound to pound in our animal kingdom.
76. It has a bite force of 224 Newtons whereas polar bear has the highest bite force of around 1646.7 Newtons.
77. Bite force quotient (BFQ is a value which compares the bite force of animals of varying body sizes) of wolverine is also not that impressive. It has a value of 105 which is, in simple terms, average.
78. Other weasels like palm civet, sun bear etc. have greater BFQ than wolverine.
Wolverine Facts for Kids: 79-83
79. Here is one of the fun wolverine facts for kids – the have exceptional sense of smell. They can smell a prey which is buried at a depth of 20 feet. They find and kill animals which are in hibernation.
80. They can cover up to 15 miles or 24 kilometers everyday in search of food. In fact, there was one incident of a wolverine covering up to 500 miles or 805 kilometers.
81. Did we tell you that they are amazingly smart? If not, then pardon us. They use roads or ways which humans abandon and can sneak the bait out of traps set by scientists for them.
82. Did you know that they can also live on high altitude? In Colorado, their habitat lies above 10,500 feet.
83. Here’s yet another fascinating wolverine facts for kids – though wolverine is so famous, it is often mistaken as bear cubs, badgers, marmots, porcupines etc.
Wolverine Facts for Kids: 84-88
84. Scientists and biologists are trying to attach GPS tracking collars to wolverines to understand more about them.
85. One of the most interesting wolverine facts for kids is that they can even swim but they swim only when necessary.
86. They are nocturnal animals. They can walk up to a distance of 15 to 20 miles or 24.14 kilometers to 32.18 kilometers every day.
87. They can walk nearly double the aforesaid distance if the food source is scarce.
88. These animals have poor eye sight. Nonetheless, their sense of smell and hearing is amazing.
Wolverine Facts for Kids: 89-93
89. Here is one of the fun wolverine facts for kids: a wolverine named M56 became famous in the year 2009 because he traveled from northern Wyoming to Colorado (around 800 kilometers) in just 42 days.
90. Did you know that the head and tail of a wolverine are lower than its backbone? It is because of this; wolverine has a lumbering gait.
91. Their population declined sharply in the 90’s and 2000’s thanks to our hunting, deforestation, etc.
92. Unlike most of the animals which live in snowy areas, wolverines don’t hibernate as they are adapted to live in such conditions.
93. Did you know that wolverines have large flat feet? Not only this, their paw stretches to almost double the size as it steps on the ground. This feature helps them to walk on the snow with ease.
This concludes our list of wolverine animal facts and wolverine facts for kids. In case you know a few more facts, feel free to let us know through the comments section.
Source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9