What’s in a Name?


One of the reasons why I’m exploring the riches of the nocturnal animal world is that my Willow the Vampire character is eventually going to learn how vampires transform into other animals. So apart from finding out more about a whole range of interesting creatures of the night, there’s the writer’s desire to “find an angle” that will set a whole plotting process into motion.

Traditional vampire lore has the blood-sucking fiends transform into wolves, rats and bats, but I’ve always been intrigued what animal characteristics they might display, if vampires changed into something a little more cuddly, like a soft Sable or a cheeky pine marten for example (yep, also members of the mustalid family, thought I just smuggle them in).

Wolverine (Gulo gulo)

Wolverine (Gulo gulo) (Photo credit: guppiecat)

Having finally reached the largest member of the mustalid family, the wolverine, I was beginning to wonder if this might not be a creature Willow the Vampire would love to transform into, when I suddenly remembered that

a)      Wolverines are not actually nocturnal and –

b)      Stinkforth-upon-Avon, where Willow lives, is in England and wolverines prefer to hang out with reindeer and caribou in Eurasian and North American forests.

Botheration!

For one glorious moment I thought I’d found just the oddball creature most suited to turn supernatural in the context of a vampire story. Let’s face it, Willow couldn’t possibly turn into a baby aardvark, no matter how cute we all thought they looked…and werewolves are past trending, don’t you think?

Looking like a cross between a bear and a wolf, the wolverine has many names and is also known as Gulo gulo, which is the Latin word for glutton, Vielfrass in German, carcajou, skunk bear and quick-hatch…and naturally, they are also famous for being Hugh Jackman’s alter ego Logan.

Originally born as James Howlett, the Marvel Comics superhero character turns into Logan and Wolverine through a series of rather unpleasant adventures, which were transferred from the comic book page to the Hollywood screen with the X-Men series of films. Logan or rather Wolverine is a mutant with quite unusual powers.

Cover of "Wolverine: Logan"

Cover of Wolverine: Logan

He has acute animal senses, retracting bone blades or claws on each hand and a remarkable ability to recover from wounds very quickly. He also is super-human strong and frankly, rather grumpy (Wolverine, not Mr Jackman! Obviously I wouldn’t know about that…although in interviews he’s always struck me as rather cheerful…his wife might say differently…who knows how he might react when asked to take out the rubbish bins or wash the dishes).

The wolverine in the wild lives mainly in tundra and coniferous forests. Like the fictional Logan it is very strong, indeed so strong that reindeer and caribou had better watch out, since a fully grown wolverine can pull them down and live off their flesh for quite a while. However, the wolverine prefers to scavenge carcasses of caribou or elk, which have been left over by other hunters. It builds tunnels under the snowy covers and pulls its half-eaten prey below the surface to eat the rest up to half a year later.

Wolverines also hunt rabbits and small rodents…which is not so good when considering that members of Willow’s extended vampire family might just happen to transform into a rat…nope, turning Willow into a wolverine is definitely off the menu!

The wolverine inhabits a large territory, which it rules in a solitary fashion and will cover up to 24 kilometres in a day to find food; they augment their carnivore diet with berries and plants during the summer months.

Gulo gulo Deutsch: Vielfraß English: Wolverine...

Gulo gulo Deutsch: Vielfraß English: Wolverine Dansk: Jærv (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wolverines can weigh between 11 to 18 kg (24 to 40 pounds) and can grow to just under 2 meters (6 ft.) in size. Their life span in the wild forests and tundra of Eurasia and North America is between 7 and 12 years. They are technically speaking omnivores, but like all mustalids have a penchant for meat-munching.

Lady wolverines give birth to two or three young during late winter or early spring. Their young are called kits and they typically live with their mothers until they reach the age of 2, are ready to reproduce and start looking for their own territory.

Looking at the fully grown wolverine on National Geographic’s website I can’t imagine this could be the creature that formed the basis for werewolf legends. It may be agile, strong, a good climber and swimmer, even a tough cookie when it comes to surviving in harsh habitats, but it’s just not very sexy.

Wolverine: X-men Origins

Wolverine: X-men Origins (Photo credit: §atsukiame)

 

 

Nope, the bear like body is not the stuff supernatural icons are made of…once again, I mean the wolverine…not Mr Hugh Jackman…on whose body I can neither comment knowledgably nor do I wish to…in case Mrs Hugh Jackman ever comes across this blog by accident, while Googling on the random words of Wolverine and grumpy.

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