Wolverines certainly do not look like the character in the X-Men movies, but their looks are deceiving, because their behavior is very much like their namesake. They can take on animals larger than themselves when provoked, although by nature they are not in the least fierce.
These animals, amongst the least studied in the world, have some interesting adaptations to their environment.
They belong to the weasel family, and are the largest land dwellers of their kind. They resemble bears, and their name suggests wolves. In reality, they are not related to wolves at all.
These small creatures may seem weak, but they are adept survivors in an environment full of predators like bears, snow leopards, and wolves. In fact, they are on top of the food chain, along with these predators.
They manage this incredible feat by pure physical strength. Even though they weigh a mere 40 lbs, they are known to take on animals twice their size, like caribou, wolves, and bears. Their carnivorous instincts are also easily satisfied because this strength allows them to hunt down big animals even during food shortage.
To survive in their cold environments, they need incredible endurance. This, the wolverines have. They cover as much as 40 miles in a day, especially during winter, in search of food.
Their habitat is known for its food shortage because of so many climatic conditions. The wolverine’s physical endurance and immense physical strength are assets that help them survive, and be at the top of the food chain.
They also have very broad paws, which allows them to walk without sinking into the snow, and also allows them to walk for long distances without feeling the strain. It further allows them to run fast and edge its prey out when hunting.
Their advantage over other predators is mainly their thick skin, which protects them from attacks by other carnivores, and the upper molar (tooth), common to their species that allows them to effortlessly tear through their prey’s skin.
Not only do they feed on live animals, they also scavenge off carcasses left behind by other predators, like following wolves to eat their leftovers.
As mentioned earlier, wolverines are members of the weasel family, and like the famous skunk, the wolverine too releases a strong unique odor from its anal glands that is effective in marking their territory, mating and hiding food.
Wolverines are also known to be incredibly greedy. They have adapted to this characteristic by eating as much as possible, and hiding the rest under the snow for later, especially when food is scarce. This area is marked by its unique smell that allows them to track it down later.
All these adaptive functions serve the wolverine well, as their cubs have a low mortality rate with the many predators sharing their habitat. These functions ensure their species does not go extinct.