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Wolverine (Gulo gulo)

In former times the Swedish name for wolverine was filfras. This name originates from the German Vielfrass, which means “big eater”. In French the animal is called Glouton, meaning “the Gluttonous”. Moreover it was said, that the wolverine was aggressive and dangerous, even for humans. Copper engravings from the middle Ages depict how a wolverine wrings itself between close growing tree trunks for emptying its bowels. One of the great theologists from the 17th century, Eric Pontoppidan, even stated, that a wolverine could eat straight through a stone wall!

All of this is based on ancient misapprehension. The sayings may be rooted in the fact that the wolverine can succeed in removing fairly big chunks of meat from a carcass in a short time. They cut and drag the chunks away and hide them in different places. The wolverine is not a very good hunter though. It feeds mainly on carcasses and it specializes in retrieving dead animals.

The rumor that the wolverine acts as a burglar in meat storage places seems to carry a trace of truth, both in The Nordic countries and North America. As protective measure against such burglary, the owners built storage room on poles (The Swedish härbre).