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Wolverine

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Wolverine
Wolverine.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Gulo gulo

Wolverines.jpg
Two wolverines sitting side by side.

Wolverines are the largest member of the mustelidae, or weasel family in North America. They are commonly four feet long and about forty pounds. Special features on the wolverine include, powerful jaws and teeth, and also padded feet and partially retractable claws. All of which help them survive in their habitat and hunt other animals. Wolverines will hunt any time of the day, and will go after prey that is even larger than itself. It may be small, but it can kill drag off prey like deer or other large ungulates. Usually they will eat small rodents or other vegetation, though. Wolverines can be found in the Northern Hemisphere in places like the northern United States, Alaska, Greenland, Canada, Siberia, and the Arctic range of Russia. They typically like the wilderness so that they are heavily protected from predators, like humans. Wolverines desire large spaces to roam so they can live in solitude.

Wolverines are highly in demand for their fur, because their fur is good for the trimming of coats for it's durability. Rare looking unique furs are also used for mounting and rugs. They are only able to be hunted a few months out of the year. This protects them from going extinct.

Body Design

The side view of a wolverine showing its coloration.

The wolverine is the largest member of the mustelidae, or weasel family, in North America. They are usually about three to four feet long, and weigh about thirty to forty pounds. Usually females weigh about twenty-five pounds. It typically has a thick, water-resistant fur that is brown with a yellow to silver band that runs over its shoulders and throat area. Some have paler patches of fur around the front of the wolverine's legs and feet. Some also have yellow or silver patches over their eyes and on the crown of their head. Wolverines have a stocky body, with a large head and very small ears and eyes.[1] The wolverine has poor eyesight, but it makes up for it with a good sense of smell and hearing. It also has long, sharp, powerful teeth with powerful jaws used to rip apart meat.[2]

Other important body features for the Wolverine include its legs, feet, and claws. Their feet, which allow them to walk "plantigrade", like humans with the soles of their feet flat on the ground. They also have padded feet specifically designed for them to travel well over snow. Almost like a snowshoe hare, distributing out their weight well. Their legs also place them low to the ground. Wolverines also have long, partially retractable claws. [3]

Life Cycle

The usual time that the wolverine mates is in between April and September. The embryos of a wolverine can lie dormant for up to six months. The embryos will start to develop and the period of gestation will begin. Gestation of the wolverine will usually last thirty to fifty days. The female will then construct a den in the snow or rock crevice. She will then give birth to one to six babies.[4] The young are usually born from late March to early April.[5]

The male or female may mate with more than just on partner, so when the children are born, and they all may have different fathers. After they are born, the baby wolverines will nurse for eight to ten weeks; and the young will sometimes stay with their mother for two years.[6] The wolverine lives up to the age of ten, and can sometimes live up to the prime ages between fifteen to eighteen.[7]

Ecology

A Wolverine is most commonly found in colder climates.

Location

Wolverines are typically found in the northern United States, Alaska, Canada, Siberia, the Arctic range of Russia, Greenland, and northern Europe. It is said that the wolverine used to thrive in the northern United States, all the way down to Arizona and New Mexico. Because of human development, however, the habitat for the wolverine has diminished. They also once survived well in Canada, but because of development they were forced to move to Alaska.[8]

Wolverines are animals that like the wilderness. They prefer a mountainous region that is heavily wooded. Wolverines like the space available to them in wooded areas, and also enjoy the solitude. [9]

Feeding Habits

The wolverine is a one-off hunter, meeting only with other wolverines during the mating season. They will hunt during the day and night, but they will usually hunt in low-light conditions. Although it is small, it is extremely strong and able to kill and drag off prey that is much bigger than itself. When hunting, it can also reach speeds of up to thirty miles per hour. Its strong jaws and sharp teeth also aid them when chewing up their prey. Wolverines probably mainly rely on small rodents as their food source. However they have been reported dragging off deer and large ungulates. They also may eat vegetation such as berries, roots, and eggs but these are not one of their main food sources.[10]

Economic Value and Status

The wolverine is a protected species, and can only be hunted in a designated fur harvest season.[11]The wolverine's fur is a has a high value to it, although it is not usable for full coats. It can be used for the trim of parkas and other garments, because of it's durability and the fact that it does not mat. Snow can easily brushed out of it. Mostly people that live in the Arctic or sub-Arctic are the main ones who purchase wolverine fur. The oddly colored ones are the most wanted for rugs and for mounting, therefore making it in high demand, and also making the price raise because of the rarity. [12]

Wolverines aren't very abundant, and are typically hard to find because of the fact they don't travel in groups. So, they usually have a fairly low population. They do avoid contact with humans because of their habitat being in thick wilderness. Wolverines are most commonly spread out among the Rocky Mountains. [13]

References

  • Muirmaid Muirmaid. Web. Accessed January 18th 2012 .Author-Unknown.
  • Nature Works Nature Works. Web. Accessed January 18th 2012 .Author-Unknown.
  • Life Cycle- Wolverine Google Sites. Web. May 2011. Author-Google Sites.
  • Wolverine Montana Trappers. Web. Accessed January 30th 2012.Author-Unknown.