Wolverine, a meat-eating animal of the Northern Hemisphere. The name is probably derived from "wolf," although wolverines and wolves are not related. Other names are carcajou, skunk bear, and American glutton. (The European glutton is a separate, but closely related, species.) The wolverine lives chiefly in arctic and subarctic regions. Its fur is valued as a trimming for parka hoods because it does not collect moisture from the breath and thus remains free of frost.The wolverine has a heavy body and powerful limbs.
The wolverine resembles a small bear. It has a broad, sturdy body, short legs, and feet armed with heavy, curving claws. Wolverines grow 3 to 3 1/2 feet (0.9 to 1 m) long and weigh 35 to 60 pounds (16 to 27 kg). They are blackish-brown with broad bands of light brown fur extending from the shoulder to the base of the tail.
The wolverine is a strong, intelligent animal. It is more powerful than any other animal of its size. It drives bears and mountain lions from their kills and is strong enough to kill elk and moose.
Wolverines are solitary animals. They feed on carrion, birds' eggs, berries, and small animals. They are notorious for raiding traps and food caches of hunters. Wolverines have scent glands which they use to mark their territory. They are terrestrial animals, but occasionally climb trees to rob nests. A litter of three to five young is born in the spring.
Many stories are told about the wolverine’s strength, intelligence, and fearlessness. Trappers tell stories of wolverines that figured out how to spring traps and steal the animals caught in them. Wolverines have also been accused of breaking into cabins and stealing food. Many of these stories, however, are probably exaggerated.
It is no exaggeration that the wolverine is the strongest animal of its size. It has a heavy body with powerful limbs. According to some estimates, if a wolverine were the size of a bear, it would be the strongest creature on Earth. The wolverine is a good climber and swimmer, but it spends most of its time on the ground.
Wolverines used to be widespread. But today these animals are quite rare. The southern boundary of their range has been pushed far to the north, and today they live only in far northern North America, north Asia, northern Europe, and in some parts of the western United States.
Glutton is a word for a person who eats too much. Another common name for the wolverine is the glutton, because this animal can eat a lot of food at one time. Wolverines often live in far northern areas. In winter, food can be hard to find. So when food is available, a wolverine gobbles down as much as it can. Wolverines can kill large animals, such as reindeer, moose, or wild sheep. But they mostly eat carrion, small animals, birds and eggs, and berries.
Wolverines have strong jaws and sharp teeth. They can easily crush bones and chew frozen meat. People have reported that wolverines can bite through tin cans. They are strong enough to drag a load of meat three times their own weight.
Wolverines can steal prey from much larger animals, such as mountain lions, wolves, and bears. They scare off these animals by raising their tails, fluffing up their fur, and growling.
The wolverine and the European glutton form the genus Gulo of the weasel family, Mustelidae. The wolverine is G. luscus. The European glutton is G. gulo.