Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Real Wolverine

Other than being a popular comic book superhero, the wolverine may be one of the more misunderstood animals in the world. After all, it’s name seems to imply that it is some sort of wolf, whereas it roughly resembles a small bear in appearance. Actually, the wolverine is a member of the mustelidae, or weasel family. However, this tenacious animal is nothing like a pet ferret.
Wolverines are about the size of a medium dog but with a shorter snout and stockier body. They have an oily, insulated coat that is resistant to frost in the cold, far-northern climate they inhabit. Wolverines are carnivores and hunt just about any form of wildlife in their territory. Extremely tenacious and resourceful, wolverines will also attempt to steal kills from larger predators such as grizzly bears and will eat carrion when it is available.

It’s not known exactly how many wolverines there are in the wild. Much like the comic book character, wolverines are solitary animals and prefer stay very far apart from one another; males have ranges that can exceed 240 square miles and do not overlap one another. It is estimated that the vast majority of the population is in Canada with occasional sightings in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and Wyoming. Other large populations exist in northern Europe and Asia, but have been in decline due to fur trapping. Though these independent little predators are rarely seen, they represent an important part of northern ecosystems.

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