Wolverines - Shy but Ferocious

Russia is home to a very unusual and elusive creature, the wolverine (Gulo gulo). Wolverines are found in the arctic regions of various countries and are ideally suited to life in the cold. An endangered species, the wolverine is deserving of the utmost protection. Known as extremely resourceful animals, Russia's wolverines are unlikely to be seen by travelers, unless you are very lucky.

The wolverine is a member of the Mustelidae family or weasel family and is the second largest species of this group. It is the only species that has been classified into the genus of Gulo. Most notable about the wolverine is its stocky, muscular body measuring between 69 and 83cm in length. Its dark brown fur is marked by yellow stripes along the side of the creature. The fur of the wolverine is dense and resistant to water and frost. Essentially they look like a small bear, but with a long tail. You are more likely to smell a wolverine than to spot it. As a member of the weasel family it carries with it a pungent odor, giving it the nicknames of “nasty cat” and “skunk bear”.

Although shy, wolverines in Russia are by no means fearful. They may be small but wolverines are very powerful and have been recorded to kill mooses. Their meal of choice is reindeer. Wolverines aren't particularly fussy eaters, feeding on carrion, stealing meals from larger predators or hunting on its own. Wolverines in Russia are typically more active hunters than their relatives in North America. When hunting, wolverines rely on ambush tactics. They may wait at a height for unsuspecting prey to walk by. They then drop quickly onto the animals back, swiftly killing them. Wolverines are known as the most ferocious members of the weasel family.

Mating season for wolverines is during the summer months. Implantation in the uterus however only takes place in early winter. During times when food is scarce the females may not produce offspring. Birthing occurs in spring with 3 or 4 young kits born at a time. Wolverines grow quickly reaching adult size by the time they have reached a year of age. This fascinating animal lives between 13 and 16 years.

Whilst visiting Russia's nature reserves you stand a slight chance of spotting a wolverine. Don't be disappointed if you don't though, they typically stay away from humans if they can.


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