Wolverine's diet and hunting behaviour

The wolverine is a carrion feeder. As a predator it is clumsy when compared to our other large carnivores, but in the winter it can still kill several reindeer in quick succession.

A wolverine running with an elk hoof bone in its mouth. Wolverine. Photo Eero Kemilä.

The wolverine is a scavenger

The wolverine is primarily a scavenger living in the coniferous forest belt, but it can also prey on small and medium-sized deer animals, such as reindeer. Small mammals, hares, foxes, birds and frogs are also a part of its diet, as are berries.


How does the wolverine hunt?

As a predator the wolverine is clumsy when compared to the other large carnivores in Finland. If the snow conditions allow it, the wolverine will prey on reindeer but it can't take down an adult moose. The snow has to be deep and soft enough so that it will support the wolverine but not the larger prey animal.

The wolverine is considered a cruel beast because it doesn't always kill the reindeer instantly but instead might paralyse it by biting it in the spine. The distance between the wolverine's canines is between 25–35 millimetres. If the wolverine doesn't manage to immediately incapacitate its prey, the surrounding terrain will often show clear signs of a fierce struggle.

In the winter the wolverine may kill several reindeer in quick succession. This is typical weasel behaviour: they kill animals for storage, so to speak. The wolverine often returns to the carcass, just like the bear. It rips off the prey animal's neck tendons and rarely leaves any claw marks on the animal. The wolverine also often detaches the prey animal's head.

Number and distribution of wolverines

The wolverine is met in small numbers in the wilderness areas of Finland's northern and eastern regions. Occasionally, adventurous wolverine specimens will also make their way into the central parts of our country. The wolverine steers clear of populated areas and requires a lot of space.

Wolverine tracks

The wolverine moves in a unique manner, which leaves behind tracks that stand out because of their shape and large size. The wolverine moves either by jumping, which creates paired tracks, or by galloping, which leaves a slanted line where the impressions appear in threes. The wolverine's paw print ...