The glutton owes its name to an insatiable appetite for carrion and not only. The mustelid brazenly attacks prey five times the size of itself. In Canada, the wolverine is regarded as the most fierce. Portrait of a mammal that is not afraid of anything.
The wolverine, a very large mustelid
The glutton (Gulo gulo), also called wolverine (“evil spirit” for the Amerindian tribe of the Micmacs of the North-East American coast) evolves on the lands with the harsh climate of the hemisphere North. It is sometimes nicknamed “bear-skunk” because it marks its territory and its food.urine. The animal belongs to the order of carnivorous and to the mustelid family, of which it is one of the greatest representatives, with the giant Amazonian otter.
A little bear look for the glutton
With a broad head, ears rounded embroidered in beige, one coat brown and short sturdy legs, the wolverine looks like a small bear. Like him, the wolverine growls and roars. But in contrast, the mustelid displays more bands clear on its sides and rump as well as a white patch on the chest. Its limbs and face are often more dark. The stocky, stocky mammal measures up to 115 cm long (including a bushy tail of about twenty centimeters) and 45 cm at the withers. The mustelid weighs between 12 and 18 kg and can reach 30 kg. With a weight between 8 and 12 kg on average, the female is more petite.
The glutton: cut to face the cold
Adapted to extreme cold, its fur thick and insulating consists of two kinds of hair: the stuff, short and very dense, keeps heat close to the body while the outer coat – longer and water repellent – does not retain water and preserves it from humidity. Its broad feet with five toes, extend into long claws curved and semi-retractable that help him climb trees. Like snowshoes, its large legs make it easier to navigate in the snow. Its 38 teeth and its jaw muscular allow him to grind the frozen meat of the carrion he loves.
Wolverines live in the far north
Wolverines live mainly in western Canada and Alaska. It is also found in Scandinavia, in Eastern Europe as well as in the extreme north of Asia (Siberia, Russia). In its range, it colonizes regions far from theman because it needs blank spaces to survive. The male covers a territory of more than 1000 km2 on which he cohabits with two or three females. The mustelid frequents the forests of conifers, tundra, taiga, open grasslands and areas shrubby. If necessary, it takes refuge under a stump, in a cave, a bush or lies down in the snow. But hunting day and night, it rarely takes shelter despite the climates rigorous.
The glutton, lover of carrion
Omnivorous predominantly carnivorous, the wolverine has a very varied diet: it generally feeds on carcasses (frozen flesh and bones), mainly of hares, beavers, foxes and supplements its diet with eggs, insect larvae, berries and fruits. The animal has previously been observed consuming the remains of whales, walruses and seals. Known for its voracious appetite, the wolverine can kill much more prey fat let him like reindeer, moose, roe deer, elk, elk, deer or bighorn sheep. It usually attacks specimens in a state of weakness : old, sick, stuck in deep snow or caught in a trap. Agile and enduring, the animal can travel up to 50 km per day in search of food, when it follows a herd of deer for example.
Wolverine, fierce and lonely
If some members of the same family sometimes live together, the wolverine is a rather solitary animal except during the breeding season. Very aggressive towards other species, he does not hesitate to attack a black bear or a wolf to dispossess them of their hunt. The wolverine is also the enemy of trappers from whom it steals bait traps. When he feels full, the mustelid stores the food under the snow after having permeated it with its smell, thus discouraging any intruder from consuming it.
The wolverine’s wild mating
From May to August, males and females sneak out of their solitude to mate with a ritual marked by screams and bites. Like many mustelids, the implantation of theembryo is deferred for approximately six months. At the end of gestation – which lasts between thirty and fifty days – the female gives birth to three cubs on average, which she fiercely defends against any intrusion. The mother nurses her offspring until they are three months old. Once weaned, the young start foraging on their own but remain in the maternal bosom until the following fall, then disperse. Wolverines reach their size adult at about a year of age and sexual maturity around the age of two or three.
Glutton: a declining population
Belligerent, capable of defending himself against larger animals, the wolverine encounters few predators natural. Wolves are their main enemies while brown bears, golden eagles and puma can prey on the most weak : small, inexperienced or sick. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies the species as “Least Concern” but underlines the decline of its populations affected by deforestation. Thus, the mustelid, which was once found in abundance in eastern Canada, is now only present there in limited numbers. The persecution (due to its bad reputation) and the poaching (for its fur) represent serious threats to the species. The wolverine’s lifespan is ten years in the wild and fifteen years in captivity.