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Wolverine

From Academic Kids

Wolverine
Conservation status: Vulnerable

Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Mammalia
Order:Carnivora
Family:Mustelidae
Genus:Gulo
Species:gulo
Binomial name
Gulo gulo
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The Wolverine (Gulo gulo) is the largest species of the Mustelidae or weasel family, and is also called the Glutton or Carcajou. It is the only species currently classified in the genus Gulo. Two subspecies are recognised, the Old World form Gulo gulo gulo and the New World form G. g. luscus.

The wolverine is a stocky and muscular omnivorous (but largely carnivorous) animal. It has glossy brownish-black hair with strips of light brown along the sides. The fur is long and dense and does not retain much water. This makes it very resistant to frost in the cold environment wolverines live in. The wolverine can weigh up to 30 kg (66 lb) (male), and is 70–110  cm (27–43  in) long with a 20 cm (8 in) tail. It resembles a small bear with a long tail. It is considered to be very strong and ferocious and has been known to kill animals as large as a moose. In fact, its preference for reindeer have caused it to be hunted significantly in areas depending economically on caribou herds, to the extent that its existence might be considered to be in danger in some regions. It is generally not aggressive towards humans, preferring to avoid human contact. However, because a wolverine will attack an animal caught in a trap, early trappers often tried to kill them. They have been known (and been filmed) to capture kills from other predators, such as polar bears or a wolf pack.

It is currently found primarily in arctic regions such as Alaska, northern Canada, Siberia and Scandinavia. Before the widespread European settlement of North America, however, it was found as far south as California. A small number remain in the Rocky Mountain states. The present worldwide wolverine population is unknown, although it appears that the animal has a very low population density throughout its range, possibly as a result of illegal hunting. Note that wolverines, especially male wolverines, require large home ranges. The wolverine is still trapped for its fur in some parts of its range.

Wolverines mate in the summer, but implantation in the uterus is delayed until early winter, which delays the development of the fetus. Females often will not produce young when food is not abundant. The young, usually 3 or 4, are born in the spring. The young "kits" develop rapidly, becoming adult size within their first year, which is their first of up to 13.

The state of Michigan is known as the Wolverine State, and University of Michigan's sports teams are named after the wolverine. However, the animal is hardly a common sight in the state. One was observed in February 2004 by hunters and biologists, marking the first time in roughly two centuries that a wolverine had been positively identified in Michigan. It is not known if that particular animal was a native of the state or if it had come there on its own or with the aid of humans.

Clipart and Animal Pictures

External links

Species account at the Wolverine Foundation's web site (http://www.wolverinefoundation.org/index.htm)

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