Gulo Facts

For anyone who comes here looking for basic information about wolverine life history and ecology, I encourage you to visit The Wolverine Foundation, where you will find the best in-depth information about current research, as well as succinct summaries about the species’ habits and conservation needs.

You might also take a look at The Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative’s Wolverine Ecology page – NRCC coordinated field operations for the Absaroka-Beartooth Wolverine Project for five years, and is currently facilitating cooperative research and monitoring of wolverines in Wyoming.

Here are brief discussions of questions that seem to commonly lead people to this blog:

Where do wolverines live? Visit The Wolverine Foundation’s page on distribution – there are two maps that show worldwide and North American distribution. Wolverines live in places with tundra habitat, and, since they are dependent on persistent spring snowpack to den, they cannot establish breeding populations unless there is deep snow through late April or mid-May. They are also generally found only where the maximum temperature in August is 70° F. Today, wolverines are found in Scandinavia, Mongolia, parts of northern China, Siberia, Canada and the U.S. The southernmost distribution of wolverines in the U.S is Wyoming (where there is a confirmed breeding population), though individual males have reached Colorado and California. Michigan is probably not home to a breeding population of wolverines.

Tell me about wolverine reproduction and baby wolverines: Wolverines mate in the summer, but hold the fertilized eggs in suspension until winter, in a process known as delayed implantation. If resources are too scant for a female to successfully raise kits, the fetuses break down without implanting. If resources are adequate, the fetuses implant and the babies, called kits, are born in February. They are born pure white and totally helpless, and remain dependent on their mother until mid-May. Most of the time, wolverines have two kits at a time. Usually, even with a lot of food available, female wolverines give birth only once every two years, and only after they are three or four years old. This means that wolverines have a very slow rate of reproduction. In a study in Glacier National Park, the mortality rate of studied animals was nearly 50%, which means that the average female wolverine produces only one surviving kit every two years. So a female wolverine, even if she lives for ten years, has low reproductive potential.

Do wolverines have social lives? Wolverines have a reputation for being solitary and hostile, but research by Jeff Copeland and other wolverine biologists suggests that these animals may have a stronger sense of sociability and kinship than we thought, albeit perhaps mediated by scarce resources scattered over huge territories. Wolverines are territorial towards unrelated wolverines of the same sex – so a female won’t tolerate an unrelated female in her territory, and the same with two males – but male territories and female territories overlap, and male and female wolverines will travel together even outside the breeding season. Father wolverines visit the dens of their kits, and juvenile wolverines may remain in their parents’ territory for up to two years, sometimes traveling with their mother, sometimes with their father, and sometimes alone. A male wolverine will kill unrelated kits; if a resident male dies or is killed, a new male may come into the territory and put the kits at risk. Ensuring a stable population could therefore be important to kit survival and long-term population health.

What does a wolverine den look like? Wolverines den in the snow, which helps keep kits insulated and also protects them from predators. Wolverine dens are located in areas with deep snow through spring, and in places where there is a substructure of talus or downfall which forms natural caves under the snow. A wolverine den would be relatively inconspicuous – just a hole in the snow – but should have multiple sets of tracks leading to and from it. After a few weeks, a mother wolverine moves her kits from the natal den, where they were born, to a series of maternal dens. She may do this because the dens become unhealthy, with too many parasites. If you think you have found a wolverine den, please let us know; this could be important to researchers. Leave a comment here or contact The Northern Rockies Conservation Cooperative.

What effects do wolverines have on the environment? Wolverines are primarily scavengers, although they are capable of killing reindeer and other ungulates, especially if the ungulates are weak. Wolverines are unlikely to have a strong effect on prey species numbers. Nor do they have a strong effect on vegetation or the abiotic environment. They have been known to cause trouble for humans by breaking into cabins, raiding traplines, and preying on small domestic livestock (reindeer in Scandinavia, reportedly sheep and goats in Mongolia) but generally they are self-sufficient and don’t cause large-scale conflicts.

Are wolves or bears having a negative effect on wolverines? Probably not. A wolverine in Glacier was killed by a black bear at a carcass site, but wolverines are generally capable of holding their own and are also probably pretty good at knowing when to beat a retreat. In the US Rockies, wolves and wolverines don’t overlap much, since wolverines tend to live at such high altitudes, but where they do, wolves are likely to provide a net benefit to wolverines by leaving ungulate carcasses on the landscape. Wolverines seem highly adapted to obtain nutrition from the most unyielding scraps of bone and skin, so even a carcass that had been picked clean by a wolf pack would offer something to wolverines.

What are the threats to wolverines? North of the 54th parallel, wolverines are widespread and the population appears robust. As suitable habitat becomes more isolated further to the south, wolverines face greater challenges. If you think of mountain ranges as islands of wolverine habitat surrounded by an ocean of lower-altitude, unsuitable habitat, you begin to understand why maintaining connectivity and genetic diversity might become more difficult. It takes a lot of energy to travel 500 miles on foot through sagebrush desert from Wyoming to Colorado, as M56 did in 2009, in order to find a suitable territory in the nearest mountains. Along the way, a dispersing wolverine faces risks in the form of highways, and perhaps housing developments, traps set for other animals, or even someone mistaking it for a coyote and shooting it. Since each individual is so important to the population, the success or failure of a juvenile in reaching suitable habitat might have long-term effects.

Since wolverines are snow dependent in order to den, they are also facing the prospect of diminished habitat due to climate change, which would make the distances that a dispersing wolverine would have to travel even longer, while also limiting the amount of territory available to denning females.

Some people think that logging might threaten habitat, and others are concerned about winter recreation. There is no scientific evidence for the logging and recreation claims, but a research project in Idaho is currently trying to asses the risk of den disturbance from snowmobilers and backcountry skiers.

Montana is the only state in the Lower 48 that permits wolverine trapping. They have reduced their quota over the past three years, so that they now issue only 5 permits statewide, with a female subquota for each region (meaning that if a female is trapped in a region, the season automatically ends even if the quota hasn’t been filled.) The effects of trapping on the population have not been thoroughly quantified, but trapping is a concrete source of mortality which reduces the stability of the population. As mentioned above, this could have effects on kit mortality if males are removed from the population, and certainly on reproduction if an adult female is removed.

Animosity towards wolves has increased in the past few months in western states, and there is some evidence that anti-wolf groups have started leaving poisoned bait lying around in hopes of killing wolves. This stupid and irresponsible ploy has already resulted in death and illness for people’s pet dogs. Poisoned bait would also be tempting for a wolverine; in fact, the demise of the wolverine in its historic range in the Rockies was probably tied to wolf poisoning programs in the early 20th century.

What’s the status of wolverine conservation? In the US, environmental groups have petitioned for listing the wolverine under the Endangered Species Act three times, and in each case they were found not warranted for listing. In December of 2010, the wolverine was deemed “warranted but precluded,” meaning that the US Fish and Wildlife Service determined that wolverines in the Lower 48 do face substantial threats (primarily from climate change), but the government currently lacks the funding to implement a recovery plan. A group of environmental groups sued the USFWS to hasten decisions on species on the warranted-but-precluded list, some of which had been awaiting a status determination for more than 20 years. As a result of this lawsuit, a decision on wolverine status is anticipated by 2013.

Listing under the ESA is not a conservation solution, so much as a recognition of the need for further action. Because wolverines are dependent on snow, global warming constitutes a potential threat that will be hard to deal with under the current mandate of the ESA. Similarly, we know so little about wolverines that it will be difficult to determine what conservation or management strategies would best protect the species. If the wolverine is listed, it’s a step that acknowledges that threats exist, but the conservation community needs to be prepared to back and fund more research to address pressing questions about management strategies. Since wolverines in the Rockies exist as part of a wide-ranging, interconnected meta-population, conservation strategies will have to be both local and regional at the same time. Wolverine conservation will, of necessity, be ecosystem-level conservation.

How can I help the wolverine? Great question! First, you should learn more – an informed, scientifically literate constituency is important for any species, so indulge your interest, and then share it with others. A great introduction to wolverine biology and research is Doug Chadwick’s The Wolverine Way, about the research project in Glacier National Park. A PBS Nature documentary, Wolverine: Chasing the Phantom aired in 2010 and is a fun introduction too. And the Wolverine Foundation has the best collection of online material on wolverines.

Second, if you live in the Rockies, become a citizen scientist – if you see a wolverine, wolverine tracks, or other sign, report it by leaving a comment here or contacting NRCC, the Wolverine Foundation, or your state wildlife agency. NRCC and several other conservation groups have citizen science projects to help document wolverines; for an ID card that will tell you how to document and report a sighting so that it is considered verified, download an ID card from NRCC’s website.

Third, contribute directly to wolverine research by donating to NRCC’s project. Specify ‘wolverine’ in your comments. Wolverine research is logistically challenging and therefore expensive, but it is essential if we are going to understand how to conserve the species. When you become a part of this effort, you directly contribute to our work with F3, M57, and the other wolverines that you read about on this blog. If you can’t afford to contribute, encourage decision-makers to support wolverine conservation with research money.

Fourth, think about the wolverine and its ecosystem when you make your own day-to-day decisions. I’m not a fan of the apocalyptic panic-button variety of environmental narrative, but climate change is real, and it’s a real threat. So get creative and get active in the way you live your life – walk, run, or bike instead of driving; think about what you eat and what you wear and how those things have an effect on ecosystems and climate; vote the environment so that we have a system that recognizes and respects the intrinsic right of all creatures to exist, and of all humans to live in a healthy world; and – politely, with humor and creativity – encourage friends and family to make similar choices. In this sense, you are part of the wolverine’s ecosystem even if you live in a flat, hot place – say, Florida – and you can be directly beneficial to the conservation and protection of an amazing and inspiring animal.

How do I protect myself from vicious wolverines?  Wolverines are not a threat to humans unless rabid, or unless, hypothetically, a person is extremely weak and incapable of moving. There has never been a documented instance of a wolverine attacking a human. Wolverines sometimes do come towards people in the wilderness; they are curious and, according to some reports, their eyes are weak, so they may want a closer look. It’s best to be wary in these situations, but don’t assume that the wolverine is chasing or attacking you.

Wolverines can be a threat to pets. If there’s a wolverine in your neighborhood, keep your pets inside, especially between dusk and dawn. If you’re out with a dog in the wilderness, keep your dog close. If you happen to have a domestic reindeer, don’t let it wander around unattended; wolverines appear to find domestic reindeer quite tasty. Never back a wolverine into a corner; like any threatened animal, they will defend themselves, and they are probably more capable than most of doing damage.

If you have any other questions about wolverines, please ask.

35 thoughts on “Gulo Facts

  1. Hi, I’m looking for a story about wolverines. I know I read it, but I can’t remember where. A husband and wife team had captive wolverines. The wife left a note to her husband saying that if were to get killed it was her fault – was going to enter an enclosure with one of the gulos. It ended up with a happy ending. I thought I read it in Chadwick’s book, but I can’t seem to find it there. Does anyone know this story, or where else I might find it? (even if my details are a bit off) – Thanks in advance.

    • Hmmm. Not sure about this story, it doesn’t sound familiar. I will give it some thought. I’m away from internet for a week or so after today, but if I recall such a story, I will let you know once I’m back. In the meantime, if anyone else knows, please leave a comment.

      • It’s called ‘Felix, a very lonely wolverine’. It was written by Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle. It was a best seller in Japan in 1987. I hope this information has helped you. also, how have wolverines adapted to the taiga?

      • Dude….are you high? Conan Doyle was 11 when Dickens died. I don’t think they ever collaborated – although it is a little known piece of literary trivia that “The Hound of the Baskervilles” was originally supposed to be “The Wolverine of the Baskervilles.”

        Anyway, for information on how wolverines have adapted to the taiga, I’d suggest looking through the Russian scientific literature. I’m still trying to figure this out myself.

  2. What is a female wolverine called? I read somewhere that they were called an angeline, but that doesn’t sound right to me.

    • As far as I know, a female wolverine is just a wolverine. The earliest recorded usage of the word “wolverine” in English occurs sometime in the 16th century (it was actually “wolvering,” listed in a shipment of pelts coming in to London from Scandinavia.) This is fairly recent, and since wolverines were never indigenous to England, it’s probably not a species that would have had a lot of gender or age-specific words applied to it. I don’t know if weasels in general have a male/female designation in English, or whether they did in Celtic, Saxon, Germanic, or Romance languages (which might have subsequently influenced terminology in English.) If anyone knows anything else about this, let me know.

      • Hello. I was wondering if you might have the original source of the information about the term ‘wolvering’ as referenced in the 16th century shipment of fur pelts? Was this from a ship’s manifest, or from a specific archive or journal reference? Any citation information would be appreciated, thank you.

      • You have caught me out on one of the few things on this blog that I cannot easily cite. I read about a 16th century fur shipment as the first recorded instance of the use of the word “wolvering” on an online linguistics publication. The fact stuck, but I cannot recall the site. I’ve gone back several times to try to search it out, and have failed. The fact that I cannot cite this has bothered me for a while. I recall that the article referenced merchant records of some sort, presumably in London. I do not know for sure whether it was a ship manifest, auction records, receipts, or customs records of some sort. I will do another search, based on what I recall, and let you know if I come up with anything.

        I’m curious about what you’re working on – something wolverine specific?

    • A female of any member of the mustelidae family (ferret, wolverine, etc.) is called a ‘jill’; a male is called a ‘hobb’ and the babies are called ‘kits’.

  3. Hello Rebecca,

    My name is Jon and I have been enjoying your blog for quite some time.

    I am currently involved in a discussion of wolverine vs wolf and the main question in this discussion is, “is a mature and healthy wolverine a match for and capable of killing a mature and health gray wolf.” I have read just about every article I can find on wolverines, I have watched many documentaries, I own many books on the subject and though I have never seen a wild wolverine, I feel that I know the creature pretty well from the research I have come across. I know that this is an animal that is very tough, very tenacious and in my opinion, this should make it capable of fighting off a single wolf. I also think, that with its weaponry and given the right set of circumstances, that this animal is more than capable of even killing an adult wolf.

    Sadly, the lupine lovers I have been arguing with aren’t having any of it, crying foul on any videos I post because of staging (which I know does happen when filming rare animals) and disputing any articles I link to as well. These lupine lovers keep coming back with the same argument that size triumphs over all, the wolf simply being too large, too powerful for the smaller wolverine to handle, choosing criteria to evaluate a one-on-one fight without knowing nearly enough about how the fight would happen, nor how to weight attributes other than the literal weight of the animal. And there is no doubt, that the wolf is a much larger and more powerful animal, but still, it is not invincible and in my opinion, should not be guaranteed a win based solely on its size.

    I have brought up the argument that the wolf, as with all canids, must fight with its face. Though the bite force quotient of the wolf is higher than the wolverine, from my point of view, having to attack an opponent with your face, is a huge disadvantage when your opponent is equipped with not just jaws of his own, but with nasty claws as well. To me, the wolverine is the perfect size to attack a wolf’s legs, underbelly and neck and with crushing jaws that have been known to eat through 8″ logs and tearing claws, the wolverine can certainly give the wolf a hard time and do some serious if not deadly damage.

    I have also stated that size is irrelevant because size does not guarantee a win, many small creatures being quite capable of defending or killing animals larger than themselves. With wolverines, it is pretty well documented that these animals are known to kill deer and other large ungulates, an impressive feat for an animal of the wolverine’s size. I have also mentioned that other animals, such as the least weasel, can kill a rabbit ten times its size. Now, I truly understand that the rabbit is not a wolf, it cannot really bite the weasel, but still, the size difference is huge and with the rabbit’s powerful legs, it can indeed hurt the weasel. However, rabbits do indeed get preyed upon by these tiny weasels quite often despite the size difference.

    I am not an expert, but I feel that I have put some pretty good thought into my points. But, since I am up against a tough crowd whom doesn’t want to budge on their thoughts without extensive proof of the wolverine’s capabilities, I have decided to turn to true experts for advice.

    Without any bias, on a flat playing field without any trees to hide in or rocks to climb, is the wolverine capable of killing a wolf and what would it take for this to happen?

    I know that there is far more written about single wolves killing wolverines, but I do not for a second believe that this happens with each encounter. There is a great number of literature out there that suggests that wolverines can fend off their kills from larger predators, but I want to weed out any myths and go on just the facts and scientist documented encounters.

    I would greatly appreciate your thoughts and any scientific data you can provide, and I would also love to hear of any encounters that you might be aware of with a wolverine vs a wolf.

    Thank you very much for your time and for providing us with this wonderful blog.

    • Hi Jon, Thanks for the question. This isn’t the first time I’ve been queried about this kind of thing (previous questions have come in via text, late at night, from drunk friends, and usually involve bets which I’m supposed to resolve….) and I have to give you the same answer I’ve given those guys: these are hypothetical questions and I don’t have any evidence either way. You’ve mustered a lot of arguments as to why and how a wolverine might kill a wolf, and they seem reasonable to me, but I’ve never seen this happen. I can ask some people who might have more information; that might take a few days, so check back next week.

      In the meantime, I can tell you that we know of wolverines chasing bears off of kills – but we also know of bears killing wolverines. I have several first-hand reports from Mongolia of wolverines doing serious damage to dogs – and these are Mongolian mastiffs, fierce, big, and bred to defend herds, not pampered American dogs. I have vaguer reports from Mongolia that wolverines are capable of killing dogs, but have not heard first hand accounts of actual incidents; I do have first-hand accounts of a dog killing a small female wolverine. I can also tell you that the Kazakhs, who hunt wolves with eagles, will not fly their birds on a wolverine because they consider the wolverine a much greater danger to their birds than a wolf – for exactly the reason you emphasize, the fact that a wolverine can turn around and attack from beneath, with teeth and claws, whereas a wolf can be immobilized and rendered harmless by the bird with a single grip of the talons around the muzzle. Mongolians tell a lot of stories about wolverines following wolf packs and relying on wolves to provide carrion, but we still aren’t sure about the details of predator interactions like this. And I have not heard any stories of wolverine-wolf battles.

      In the US Rockies, we tend to see some spatial segregation between wolves and wolverines, especially during the winter when wolverines are able to travel through higher, more snowbound areas, whereas wolves are forced to stay lower, in areas where the snow is more manageable. So they may simply try to avoid confrontation as much as possible, as a response to an evolved specialization in different niches.

      I did hear last year of a wolverine carcass that was found in Alaska and that tested positive for rabies – evidently that wolverine had gotten into a fight with a wolf before it died, or so the biologists speculated based on injuries on the carcass. If this is the case, that wolverine probably did kill the wolf by giving it rabies – although this is probably not the kind of death match that you had in mind.

      Again, check back in a bit, and maybe I will have some more definite evidence.

      Thanks again for the question, and for reading.

      • Thank you for taking the time to reply. Given what I know about wolverines, I still believe them to be capable of doing some serious damage to a wolf, if not even killing it. But sadly, without evidence, the lupine lovers won’t have any of it.

        For the record, I have also contacted experts at the Wolverine Foundation and Steve Kroschel on this subject. I was thrilled to hear back from Jeff Copeland himself, but he pretty much repeated what I already knew about fights being varied by the individual and circumstances. He did state however, that the wolverine SHOULD be capable of defending itself against a wolf. I have yet to hear back from Steve.

        Anyhow, I look forward to reading any more accounts you can provide on this subject.

        Thanks again.

  4. Thanks for the follow-up information, about the origins of the ‘wolvering’ term. I’m currently researching the history of Native American cultures in North America and their use of different furs as a material in clothing adornment. Wolverines are just one of several animals I’m researching on the history of the practice. The University of Alaska collections, for example, has a fantastic example of a parka (post 1920) that combines wolverine fur, beaver and red fox.
    If you do come across any additional information regarding the term, I would welcome the citation for reference. Thanks again, and happy new year.

    • Here’s one possibility for the primary source: among the papers of William Cecil, adviser to Queen Elizabeth I, there is a document from February 14, 1587, recording what seems to be a pirate action in which goods are confiscated from a ship in the North Sea and delivered to a man in York. Included among the confiscated (pirated?) goods are “200 sable skins dressed, and divers other furs,” including “wolf or wolverine.” Not sure if this is the original text or adapted for modern readers, so this could be the source. Hopefully the link below will work to take you to the page; the papers are organized chronologically.

      If this is indeed the first mention of wolverines in the English language, I find it somewhat entertaining that it occurred on February 14th – the day we usually use as a reference for when wolverine kits are born.

    • Here’s another reference that predates the mention in the Cecil papers: the London Port Book from Dec 1567 to Jan 1568 records, among a wide assortment of goods carried on the Primrose out of Antwerp, “4 raw wolverine skins.” The goods on this ship seem to have comprised the property of a number of different individuals; the pelts seem to have belonged to one William Cokin, and the value of his cargo, which included the pelts and some madder (which is a dye), was placed at 18 Pounds. From other madder shipments on the same vessel, it appears that an individual count of madder was worth about 0.65 Pounds. Cokin had 24 counts of madder, so the value of the pelts was about 2.5 Pounds.

      There’s also another reference, in a dictionary of traded goods and commodities, to “wolvering” and to “weazel” as types of velvet, which is interesting.

    • I just tried to send you an email but it bounced back – the address that you left apparently doesn’t exist. I’d love to help you out, either by pointing you to some sources where you can read up on wolverines (besides this blog – but if you read through it, you’ll find a pretty good answer to your question), or – if this is allowed in the assignment – by having a conversation about wolverine habitat requirements. But I’d like to know more about your assignment first, just to make sure that I’m not giving you an answer that you’re supposed to find through independent reading. What grade are you in and which class is this for? And also, can you define more clearly what you mean by “ecosystem?” This is a pretty broad question which has several potential answers.

      Thanks for reading, and hope that I can help you find the answer to your question.

  5. I read an Indian legend about a wolverine that whistled to attract girls. Do wolverines make any kind of whistling sound?

    • Do you have any more information on which Indian nation this legend belongs to?

      Wolverines make a squeaky, chirpy sort of noise. Depending on how your legends are translated, this could have been easily written as ‘whistling.’ Also, if this legend was part of the cycle of wolverine stories from Quebec, it could simply be behavior attributed to a mythological animal character that has nothing to do with how that animal behaves in real life (in those stories, wolverine also cooks geese in a pot, sleeps with some humans and a deer, etc, etc. He functions as a trickster character similar to coyote in Western tribal stories, so he gets up to all sorts of human-inflected behavior.)

      I’m curious to know where the legend is from, so let me know if you have a chance. Thanks!

    • Wolverines have a broad range of vocalizations; in kithood, they can even make the well-known ‘dooking’ sounds made by domestic ferrets. As they mature and grow larger, their vocalizations grow deeper. Snuffling, snorting, and grunting noises are often produced by a wolverine sniffing around an area, while a deep growl (described by Doug Chadwick as similar to an idling Harley-Davidson) is produced by a wolverine guarding a kill or caught in a biologist’s trap. I think that this latter sound is produced on the exhalation but not on the inhalation, but I could have it backwards.

  6. It’s a shared legend of the Chippewa, Cheyenne and Lakota offered an explanation of wolverine mating behavior. Told as “The Sister’s Wish to Marry a Star,” the story described two sisters who escaped from the Sky World, only to later need rescuing from the perch of an eagle’s nest high in a tree. In exchange for his help, Wolverine was offered a chance to marry the girls. Using his special ability to climb higher than the other animals, Wolverine saved the sisters and married them, but they soon tricked him and ran away. The legend explained that this is why the wolverine returns again and again to the trees, to whistle for the girls and await their reply, hearing only the wind through the trees in response. This comes from: Bobby Lake-Thom (Medicine Grizzly Bear), Spirits of the Earth: A Guide to Native American Nature Symbols, Stories, and Ceremonies (Plume, 1997), 70.

    • Interesting! Thanks for the info, I had not heard that story before. Wolverines do make odd noises and they do climb trees, and there seem to be a fair number of stories about girls running away from them, but as for straight-up whistling….I’ve never heard them do that. I will ask my colleagues who have spent more time with wolverines in the field, and let you know what they say.

      Thanks again for bringing this story to my attention.

    • Hi Jeffery, Thanks for getting in touch. I’d recommend that you check out the Wolverine Foundation website ( for the basics. You will see a menu across the top, and one of the options is “Resources.” Click this, follow to “Species Account,” and look at both “General Characteristics” and “Denning” for specific information on male and female wolverines. If you have specific questions, let me know – some of the language on there is pretty scientific. Not sure how old you are, but just let me know if you need clarification. I would also point you to the PBS film “Wolverine: Chasing the Phantom,” which discusses wolverine parenting strategies and the behavior of male and female wolverines. This film was available to watch online for free, and I hope it still is. Also see if you can get hold of Doug Chadwick’s book, “The Wolverine Way,” an easily readable book that includes some information on your question. Finally, if you’re up for it, I can send you some scientific papers that deal with the topic – but I would like to know your grade level before I do, so I know if they’re the right resource to send. Good luck! – Rebecca

  7. Pingback: Channel your inner wolverine! | Animal Blawg

  8. Hi, just bought a wolverine skull in B.C. Fantastic condition,lower jaw is hinged in such a way that it cannot be removed from the skull without breaking. I am going to research some native stories that relate to the Wolverine in a positive way .I know that he is viewed as a trickster and a trouble maker but would like to fell my grandsons positive stories of our great wild animals.Great blog. Thanks for doing this. DMC

  9. Hi i had a question what is the difference from a juvenile and an adult? Also do their appearances change over time or during different seasons?

    • Hi Tiffany, thanks for the question and for your interest in the species.

      Wolverine kits are born white and gain their darker coloring and markings over the first three months of their lives. They then remain with their parents for about a year after birth – only after a year do juveniles set out to try to establish their own home territory. Establishing and defending a territory is the mark of adulthood for a wolverine.

      As for changing pelage over time and season, they do not change colors seasonally the way that ermine or snowshoe hare do, but they do have a much thicker coat in winter, and their fur can become somewhat sun-bleached during the summer.

      Hope that helps. Let me know if you have other questions.

  10. Hi Rebecca, thank you for your blog (and all your work), which truly gives amazing insights into this mysterious species. I’m a writing something fictional that is set in the North American wilderness (I’m Irish myself; and I think we lost any wolverines we may have had a very long time ago; if we ever had them in the first place). I have been trying to find out a few bits of specific pieces of info re female wolverine appearance/behaviour. First, with regard to the scent marking from anal glands, if a wolverine were scared/aggressive, would she emit scent in response (I’m thinking of a skunk-like response)? Second, if this was during February, and she had kits, would it be likely that she would be out foraging, or would she be more likely to be in a den suckling those kits? Thirdly, if she were out and reared up on her haunches, would her teats be clearly visible, or with her shaggy fur, would they be hard to see?
    Sorry if these questions are ultra specific, but if you could give me any idea re the scent-marking/emitting one at least, I would really appreciate it. Thanks again.

    • Hi Mary – thanks for reading! Great to know there are wolverines fans in Ireland too.

      To your questions:

      1. Yes, wolverines do emit musk or spray as a defense and when they’re scared.
      2. Female wolverines do leave the den when they have kits, but they don’t go that far. So she might be out foraging, but likely someplace relatively close (for a wolverine) to the den.
      3. Yes, if it were later in the nursing season, her teats would be visible. We see this with female wolverines on camera traps – we engineer the stations so that the wolverine will have to stand up to reach the bait, and this allows us to sex the animals and to assess whether the females have kits that year, because the teats are pretty visible after March.

      Hope that helps. I’m happy to email with you if you have other questions. Would love to know more about what you’re working on, too. Keep me posted; I like to keep track of all the fiction that involves wolverines, as well as the science.

      • Hi Rebecca,

        Thanks so much for your prompt reply! That is so helpful.

        I’m not actually working on something directly about wolverines, but on something where a character encounters a wolverine, and I wanted to get it right. And your info has a given me confidence that I can get this right (despite never having seen a wolverine in my life!) – that detail re getting the wolverines to stand up for the camera traps. Perfect! That said, I would be glad to email with you if any wolverine-related matters come up again. Thank you for offering. More to the point, I am delighted to have discovered this site (the joys of research!) and your work. You sound amazing and your writing is wonderful.

        I will certainly be keeping an eye on what you are doing.

        Best wishes and thanks again.

  11. Ms Wolverine:
    Years ago I came across a wonderful poem about a wondering wolverine. My best guess is that I saw it in a Wolverine Foundation news letter. In its last line it referred to the subject Wolverine as a VAGABOND (it may even have been the poem’s title as well). I keep a file on all things Wolverine, but have not been able to find the poem there or elsewhere for quite a few years now. I’ve done computer searches. I, of course, contacted the Foundation about it several years ago but the young woman I corresponded with had not heard of it and could not find it.

    I would greatly appreciate finding it again. I hope you, Ms Wolverine, or one of your readers might know of it and be able to share it with me. PLEASE.

    Larry DeClaire

    • Hi Larry,

      I’m probably that same young woman with whom you corresponded previously, and I’m still not aware of the poem you’re looking for, unfortunately. Was it a print version of the newsletter, or electronic?

      Regrettably, at the moment I don’t have the time to try to track this thing down for you, and knowing only that the poem is about a wolverine and has the word “vagabond” in it isn’t much to go on. Google might be a place to start, although there’s no guarantee that it’s anywhere on the internet. But it might be. Worth a shot on your part.

      Good luck and let me know if you find it. And I will likewise let you know if I stumble across it anywhere.

      In the meantime, too, there is this excellent poem, “For the Last Wolverine,” by James Dickey, which is beautiful, although probably not the one you are looking for:

      • I recently bought a used copy of Peter Krott’s ‘Demon of the North’. Sometimes, these old classics are a good source of poems and other historical references. I have read many wolverine poems in old books and I find that they are a better source than the internet.

        I don’t clearly remember the poem you mentioned, but it does sound a bit familiar. My advice is to grab all of the old books you can find. ‘The Wolverine Way’ by Doug Chadwick is one of the best. ‘Demon of the North’ may be very hard to find, but it is also excellent; the guy obviously raised wolverine kitts. Another possibility is to write or email Steve Kroschel. He may be familiar with more poems than I am.

        I’m sorry I could not be of more help,

        -D. Jones

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