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 PREDATOR - The Wolverine

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PostSubject: PREDATOR - The Wolverine   Sat May 05, 2018 12:04 am


The Wolverine


The wolverine, also referred to as glutton, carcajou, skunk bear, or quickhatch, is the largest land-dwelling species of the family Mustelidae (weasels). It is a stocky and muscular carnivore, more closely resembling a small bear than other mustelids. The wolverine has a reputation for ferocity and strength out of proportion to its size, with the documented ability to kill prey many times its size. These tough animals are solitary, and they need a lot of room to roam. Individual wolverines may travel 15 miles (24 kilometers) in a day in search of food. Because of these habitat requirements, wolverines frequent remote boreal forests, taiga, and tundra in the northern latitudes of Europe, Asia, and North America.

Conservation status

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
Genus: Gulo
Species: G. gulo

Binomial name
Gulo gulo

Range

Behavior
While generally nocturnal, wolverines will forage during the day if need be. They are also capable of altering their sleeping pattern to accommodate for areas of extended daylight or darkness, sleeping for 4 hours, then being awake for 4 hours.

Wolverines do not hibernate and are well-adapted for winter existence, with extremely dense fur, large snowshoe-like paws that allow them to stay on top of deep snow, and crampon-like claws that enable them to climb up and over steep cliffs and snow-covered peaks.

Wolverines are highly effective scavengers, with their keen sense of smell, strong teeth that crunch up bones, and their legendary ability to travel year-round through extreme alpine environments and over extraordinary distances. Wolverines have been documented traveling great distances, often going right over mountains instead of taking the easy way around. Individual wolverines may move more than 18 miles in one night. One male wolverine near Yellowstone traveled more than 500 miles in 42 days!

Physical characteristics
The wolverine is a stocky and muscular animal. With short legs, broad and rounded head, small eyes, and short rounded ears, it resembles a bear more than other mustelids. Its large five-toed paws and plantigrade posture facilitate movement through deep snow. The adult wolverine is about the size of a medium dog, with a length usually ranging from 65–107 cm (26–42 in), a tail of 17–26 cm (6.7–10 in), and a weight of 9–25 kg (20–55 lb), though exceptionally large males can weigh up to 32 kg (71 lb). The males are as much as 30% larger than the females and can be twice the female's weight. Wolverines have thick, dark, oily fur which is highly hydrophobic, making it resistant to frost. A light silvery facial mask is distinct in some individuals, and a pale buff stripe runs laterally from the shoulders along the side and crossing the rump just above a 25–35 cm (9.8–14 in) bushy tail. Some individuals display prominent white hair patches on the throat or chest.

Hunting and diet
Wolverines eat a bit of vegetation, like plants and berries, in the summer, but this does not make up a major part of their diet—they are tenacious predators with a taste for meat. Wolverines easily dispatch smaller prey, such as rabbits and rodents, but may even  attack animals many times their size, such as caribou, if the prey appears to be weak or injured. These  opportunistic eaters also feed on carrion—the corpses of larger mammals, such as elk, deer, and caribou. Such finds sustain them in winter when other prey may be thinner on the ground, though they have also been known to dig into burrows and eat hibernating mammals.


Social structure and home range
Wolverines are territorial animals and defend large, gender-exclusive territories. They naturally occur at low population densities. Yet, surprisingly, wolverines have a social side. Male and female territories overlap each other, and they have strong family bonds. A male wolverine will interact with his kits even after they have struck out on their own.

Reproduction and life cycle
Males scent-mark their territories, but they share them with several females and are believed to be polygamous. Females den in the snow or under similar cover to give birth to two to three young each late winter or early spring. These dens are generally tunneled through snow and are associated with uprooted trees, avalanche debris, and boulders, often in remote alpine cirques at or above tree line. Young wolverines are called kits, and are born white as snow. Kits sometimes live with their mother until they reach their own reproductive age—about two years old.

Distribution and habitat
Wolverines in the Lower 48 live in rugged, remote country, spending most of their time inhigh elevations near or above timberline. Further north in Alaska and Canada, wolverines occur within a wide variety of elevations in alpine, boreal and arctic habitats, including boreal forests, tundra and western mountains.  

Historically, wolverines once lived in the northern and southern Rocky Mountains, Sierra Nevada Mountains, and North Cascades Mountains, as well as in parts of the Midwest and the Northeast. Today, wolverines in the Lower 48 can be found in portions of the North Cascades Mountains in Washington and the northern Rocky Mountains in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming (this area also includes the Wallowa Range in Oregon). There have been lone individuals found in Michigan’s forests, the southern Rocky Mountains in Colorado, and the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California.


Wolf vs Wolverine
The relationship between wolves and wolverines is more of a 'love-hate relationship'. Wolverines have been known to feed on carrion left by wolves, so changes in the population of wolves can effectively have an impact on wolverines. However, while wolverines have dominated wolves in competitions over a carcass, some wolves become habituated to predating wolverines and, in such cases, wolves may lead to a complete absence of wolverines in a given area. In terms of an actual conflict, in a one-on-one situation, the wolverine is likely to win due to its brute strength and endurance capacity, whereas the wolf lacks this brute strength. However, if a conflict occurred between a wolverine and a pack of wolves, then it is likely that thelikely that the wolves will take the victory as they would have the power of numbers (however, it would depend as to how many wolves were in the pack, as wolverines have been witnessed to take on more than one wolf to defend carrion).

Originally from STP
Additional information found here

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