All these years I’ve only known the Wolverine to be a character of X-Men from the comics and thereafter the movie. Never did it occur to me that there is a creature out there with the same name. Wolverine aka Gulo gulo!
The wolverine (Gulo gulo) is the largest land-dwelling species of the Mustelidae or weasel family (the Giant Otter is largest overall) in the genus Gulo (meaning “glutton”). It is also called the Glutton or Carcajou. Some authors recognize two subspecies: the Old World form Gulo gulo gulo and the New World form G. g. luscus.
Despite it’s name, the wolverine is not related to the wolf. The wolverine is very clever like a wolf, but he is much more resourceful than a wolf. The wolverine is related to the weasel, they are known to be very shy and like most weasels the wolverine is scarcely seen. There are people who have spent years in the Alaskan wild and never seen one. Although you may not see them, you can smell them because like most weasels the wolverine has glands that it often uses to mark territory. Even though they have a shy nature, those who have seen the wolverine attest to their feistiness. The wolverine is also very fierce, fearless and protective of it’s young. The wolverine inherited the weasel’s powerful back and legs.
The wolverine’s (questionable) reputation as an insatiable glutton may be in part due to a false etymology. The animal’s name in old Swedish, Fjellfräs, meaning “fell (mountain) cat”, worked its way into German as Vielfraß, which means roughly “devours much”. Its name in other West Germanic languages is similar (e.g. Dutch Veelvraat). The name in Old Norse, Jarfr, lives on in the regular Icelandic name jarfi, regular Norwegian name jerv, regular Swedish name järv and regular Danish name jærv. The Finnish name is Ahma, which is derived from “ahmatti” which also is precisely translated as “glutton”. The Russian “rosomakha” as well as the Polish and Czech name “rosomak”, seems to be a borrowing from the Finnish rasva-maha (fat belly). Similarly, the Hungarian name is “rozsomák” or “torkosborz” which means gluttonous badger.
The wolverine is always on the move and is always trying different ways to get the job done. Sometimes in order to do that he uses rocks or his body as a wedge, he might use his head to push up his obstacle, if he can’t push an obstacle, he will literally stand on his head to see if that will move his obstacle. Because of his work and eating ethics, I consider him one of the most resourceful animals in the Arctic.
Characteristics and Physical Features of the Wolverine
Length: 3-4 ft.
Weight: 30-40 lb.
Distinguishing Characteristics: Two pale stripes down it’s back.
Breeding: Once a year.
Range: The Arctic mainland of Russia, Alaska, Canada, and Greenland.
Diet: Carrion (dead animals)
And here is my little Wolverine!