Wolverines are the largest member of the mustelid family, which includes weasels, otters, and raccoons. They are typically around two and a half to three feet in length and can weigh up to 40 pounds. In the wild, they live to be 7 to 12 years old.
The favored habitat of wolverines is cold, usually tundras, taigas, and Northern forests. They can be found in Europe, Asia, and North America. While technically omnivores, wolverines only eat plants when they have to. One wolverine can sometimes travel up to 15 miles in a single day on the hunt for food. Like many predators, they are solitary animals.
Typically, wolverines prey on smaller mammals and birds, but from time to time they will actually attack larger animals, such as deer. They are also opportunistic and eat prey which has already been killed by another, larger predator. During the summer, they sometimes eat leaves and berries. The wolverine’s scientific name, Gulo gulo, means “the glutton”, which shows just how tenacious they are when it comes to food. Wolverines have even been known to get into fights with wolves or bears, and successfully defend themselves, when there are disputes over prey.
They are also very smart and often are able to sneak food out of traps set by humans who want to study them.
The family life of wolverines is not very well known, but it is thought that they are polygamous. Females give birth in the spring to a litter of usually two or three kits. The mothers give birth to and raise their kits in burrows. At first, the kits’ fur is pure white and over the first few months of their loves, it darkens into the same dark brown as the adults. True to predator form, wolverine kits stay with their mothers for a long time and aren’t fully grown until they’re around two years old. Predators stay children longer because they are in less danger than prey animals.
Male wolverines scent-mark their territories. In some more remote areas, like Northern Europe or some parts of North America, a single wolverine’s territory can be as large as several hundred miles square. The largest known distance that a wolverine has traveled is nearly 500 miles, from Wyoming to Colorado.
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