Just the Facts: The wolverine is a stocky and muscular omnivorous, but primarily carnivorous, animal. It has glossy brownish-black hair with strips of light brown along the sides.
The fur is long and dense and does not retain much water. This makes it very resistant to frost in the cold environment where wolverines live.
Weights and Measures: The wolverine can weigh up to 25 kg (55 lb) (male), and is 70–110 cm (27–43 in) long with a 20 cm (8 in) tail.
It resembles a small bear with a long tail. It has also been known to give off a strong, unpleasant odor, giving rise to the use of the term "skunk bear" to describe the animal.
Small but Strong: The wolverine is extremely strong for its size and has been known to kill animals as large as moose. Its preference for reindeer have caused it to be hunted significantly in areas depending economically on caribou herds, and its status is sometimes in danger in such regions.
Hostile to Humans? It is generally not aggressive toward humans, preferring to avoid human contact. However, because a wolverine will attack an animal caught in a trap, early trappers often tried to kill them.
They have been filmed capturing kills from other predators, such as polar bears or a wolf pack.
The Birds and the Bees: Wolverines mate in the summertime, but implantation in the uterus is delayed until early winter, which delays the development of the fetus.
They Grow Up So Fast! Females often will not produce young when food is not abundant. The young, usually three or four, are born in the spring. The young kits develop rapidly, becoming adult size within the first year of up to thirteen years of life.
Where in the World? It is currently found primarily in arctic regions such as Alaska, northern Canada, Siberia and Scandinavia. Wolverines have also been spotted in Russia and Baltic countries. Before the widespread European settlement of North America, however, it was found as far south as the Sierra Nevadas in California. A small number remain in the Rocky Mountain states. The present worldwide wolverine population is unknown, although it appears that the animal has a very low population density throughout its range, possibly as a result of illegal hunting. Wolverines, especially males, require large home ranges. The wolverine is still trapped for its fur in some parts of its range.
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