The Wolverine (Gulo Gulo) is the largest terrestrial member of the Weasel family and is also known as the Glutton or the Skunk Bear. A solitary animal, this powerful carnivore more closely resembles a small bear than the rest of the weasel family, but appearances can be deceptive. Like many weasels they can take down prey many times their own size, having a reputation for ferocity and strength out of proportion to their actual size.
The Wolverine ranges far outside of Mongolia, found in Northern boreal forests and subarctic and alpine tundra throughout the Northern Hemisphere from Alaska, through Scandanavia to Siberia. Since the 19th century the Wolverine population has steadily declined due to trapping and habitat reduction, our fault again. It is to all intents, absent from the southern end of its European range.
The adult wolverine is about the size of a medium dog, with a length usually ranging from 65–107 cm, a tail of 17–26 cm, and a weight of 9–25 kg, though exceptionally large males can weigh up to 32 kg. The males are as much as 30% larger than the females and can be twice the females’ weight. Wolverines have thick, dark, oily fur which is highly hydrophobic, making it resistant to frost, hence its popularity with trappers. It has potent anal scent glands used for marking territory and sexual signaling, which explains the name Skunk Bear.
Prey mainly consists of small to medium-sized mammals, but the wolverine has been recorded killing prey such as adult deer that are many times larger than itself. Armed with powerful jaws, sharp claws, and a thick hide, they may defend kills against larger or more numerous predators such as wolves or bears. At least one account reported a wolverine’s apparent attempt to steal a kill from a black bear, although the bear won what was ultimately a fatal contest. Wolves are thought to be their most important natural predator, with the arrival of wolves to a wolverine’s territory presumably leading the latter to abandon the area.