In this week’s episode, we jump to one of our favorite families, the mustelids, and tackle the Wolverine. These circumpolar predators are mysterious and incredibly unique. They are actually the largest mustelid on the planet and exhibit many common traits found in these animals. The Wolverine is tenacious, rugged and a survivor. We also have a major announcement to make that should make everyone smile. Thank you so much for your support and for sharing these episodes with your friends and family. This is the defining decade for our planet and we all need to band together to protect our wildlife.
The Wolverine is a mustelid. The mustelids are all considered carnivores and there are up to 60 different species of mustelids. These include all the otters, weasels, minks, badgers, martins, polecat and many others. These tenacious little carnivores survive in the some the harshest terrain found in the world. They all evolved from the Myacids, which emerged nearly 55 million years ago. Mustelids really boomed during the Mid-Miocene Climate Transition. During this time about 14 million years ago, the planet cooled and grasslands became a dominant feature of the landscape. This allowed different rodents and lagomorphs (rabbits et al.) to boom in population. In turn, the mustelids as a major predator of these animals also boomed.
The Wolverine is a circumpolar animal. They live in North America, Asia and Europe. Their closest relatives are the martins, fisher and tayra. There is only a single species of Wolverine and has the species name Gulo gulo.
The Wolverine is the largest of the mustelids. They can weigh up to 55 lbs. (25 kg) and have a body length of 42 inches (105 cm). They are built to survive in the frigid north with their short squatty body, small ears and limbs. Other facts include:
- Live only 7 to 12 years in the wild (up to 17 under human care)
- Hair is hydrophobic allowing them to repel water
- Large feet like snow shoes allowing them to move more easily to catch prey
- Are carrion eaters, deer, elk, carribou and others
- Cache food in snow banks for later eating
- Will hunt small animals
- Will also eat vegetation and fruit if needed
- #1 enemy is grey wolf, but also hunted by bears and cougars
Listed as Least Concern but populations are decreasing. Climate change as well as habitat loss are biggest drivers of population decreases.