Wolverine, or carcajou (Gulo gulo
), largest of the WEASELS
, resembles a powerful, miniature bear. Adult males weigh about 14 kg; females, 9 kg. Fur is usually dark brown; head and tail are slightly lighter than the body. Usually, 2 tan stripes run from the neck along the sides, meeting at the tail.
Distribution and Habitat
The wolverine is a rare animal in Canada. They are now absent from the southeast and the prairies, rare in the east, and sparse in western and northern regions. They are known for travelling long distances (up to 112 km in 24 hours). In Alaska adult males have been found to have territories of up to 770 km2
; females, 355 km2
Reproduction and Development
Wolverines are normally solitary except when breeding or raising young. Mating occurs May-July; implantation is delayed and the 2-5 young are born Feb-Mar.
The wolverine's supposed strength, ferocity, and ability to raid traplines and cabins have become legendary. The powerful teeth and jaws are adapted for crushing frozen meat. Wolverines are better scavengers than hunters. In winter they eat mainly carrion; in summer, berries and vegetation as well. Wolverines do best in sparsely populated areas with abundant ungulate populations.
Relationship with Humans
Wolverine fur is preferred for trimming parka hoods because outer hairs shed frost without wetting. BC provides about one-third of all pelts (300-500) taken in Canada annually. Exploitation by humans is the most important external factor influencing abundance and distribution.
The eastern wolverine is rarely encountered (artwork by Heather Caldwell).
The wolverine is a fierce, solitary animal which applies a stinking scent to any leftover food (artwork by Jan Sovak, 1989).
Links to Other Sites
Natural History Notebooks
View illustrated descriptions of a huge variety of Canadian animal species, prehistoric creatures, and endangered/extinct animals. A Canadian Museum of Nature website.
Canadian Biodiversity Website
A great information source for all budding biologists. Learn about biodiversity theory, natural history, and conservation issues. From McGill’s Redpath Museum.
View an online collection of Paul Nicklen's outstanding nature photographs. Click on each image to access photos of seals, polar bears, whales, walruses, Arctic landscapes, and much more. Note: requires Flash Player.