Zoology

The Diet and Feeding Habits of the Wolverine



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I remember reading about a wolverine when I was very young. In a book about a dog, by possibly Jim Kjelgaard, a young boy and his dog stranded alone in a cabin. When a wolverine comes down the chimney, yes I said down the chimney in order to get at the boy and the dog. Of course, the dog saves his boy and the book goes on from there. That scene has stayed with me and has even become a joke with my friends about a wolverine coming down the chimney to eat you. . . but joking aside a wolverine is a very dangerous predator that will eat almost any prey.

The wolverine (Gulo gulo) is a very ferocious predator who is the largest land dwelling member of the weasel family (Mustelidae). It is a very stocky built animal that is rather strong for its size as in they can bring down prey as large as a moose! Its fur is brown with stripes of dull yellow along the sides. They are about the size of a medium size dog with the male being bigger than the female with a weight ranging from 22-66 pounds.

Wolverines are solitary and need a large area or territory in which to roam looking for food. You will most likely find them in uninhabited areas in Northern Asia, Europe and North America. In the US, they can be found in Northern California, Northern Colorado and in Canada. The wolverines in Europe and Northern Asia have to hunt more for themselves than due the wolverines in the Americas. This is because the wolverines in the Americas depend on prey left by wolf packs in the Americas.

Wolverines are technically considered to be omnivores instead of carnivores because they may eat a little vegetation in the summer, but plants do not usually make up part of their diet. They are very much a predatory species. They will eat rabbits and rodents, but will also attack and eat prey that is many, many times their size, like caribou, if it appears to be weak and/or injured. They have no prejudice against carrion (already dead animals) like some predators and will readily eat another predator's kill, which helps them survive especially in the harsh winters of its environment. Although, the vicious little weasels have also been known to find and eat hibernating animals in their burrows. They also have a special tooth that is oriented sideways which allows them to eat frozen carrion, and to crush bones.

While the wolverine is a ferocious hunter, it can also defend a kill or take a kill from a larger predator. This is due the strong jaws and thick skin that the wolverine has. Therefore, once it finds a kill, it can defend the kill.

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