Gulo gulo, the wolverine a.k.a. the glutton, skunk bear, or nasty cat is a gnarly looking beast. It lives in arctic and subarctic areas in North America, Europe, and Asia where there are vast expanses of snow and ice-covered wilderness. Wolverines are solitary animals in need of huge snowy ranges. A single male can hold a 250 square mile territory that only overlaps with the few females that he mates with.1
These feisty weasels are built for a hardscrabble, snowy existence. Their stocky bodies sport huge paws with long claws that act simultaneously like snow shoes and crampons, allowing them to cover long distances across snow-covered mountains with their floppy gallop. They run all over the place, swim just fine, climb trees no problem, whatever they need to do to TCB.3
Gulo gulo means gluttonous glutton, named after its enthusiastic eating style which you would probably have too if food were as hard to come by as it is during those long icy winters up there. Wolverines are wildly opportunistic taking down live prey both smaller and much larger than themselves (like moose!) and scavenging every bit of the deadest, frozenest animals (they eat teeth, you guys!). Even though they are only as big as a medium-sized dog they won’t hesitate to fight a grizzly bear for access to food. They will fight for it and then spray it with their anal scent glands deterring other animals from eating it.3 Also they don’t hibernate. But they will dig into burrows and eat hibernating animals.4 They’re kinda the toughest.
Because they require huge snowy ranges they are threatened by climate change and habitat encroachment. Folks also trap them for their super thick, frost-resistant fur.1 Not too much is known about these guys so hopefully more research and recognition for how cool they are will help us learn more and help them stick around.
POWERFACT!: This nasty cat is the largest land-dwelling weasel. It is also really smart and has been known to set off fur traps with sticks and also to carry them off and bury them.5