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Fishers (Fisher Cat) A Forest Predator

Updated on November 27, 2014
Riverman57 profile image

Was employed by A.T. & T. for twenty eight years after four years in the U.S.Navy.Then owned a bait and tackle store in Northern Wisconsin

Fisher or fisher cat is a predator of the forest

The fisher a forest predator which is also referred to as fisher cat, is a medium-sized mammal native to North America.

The fisher ranges across the middle of the continent extending from the forest in northern Canada to the northern fringes of the United States.

The fisher is agile in trees and has a slender body that allows it to be a better hunter.

Despite its name, this animal seldom eats fish.

porcupine
porcupine

Diet

Fishers are predators, and most of their prey are mice, porcupines, squirrels, snowshoe hares, birds, and shrews, and sometimes, other carnivores. They may also feed on fruits and berries, such as beechnuts and apples.

They have also been seen to eat white-tailed deer, though they are most likely scavenging a deer carcass.

Fishers are among the few predators able to kill porcupines.

They do it by biting the face, where there are no quills, until the animal is too weak to prevent being rolled over and attacked in the soft underbelly.

Forest
Forest

Habitat

Fishers prefer certain types of forests, but they are also found in various forest types.

They prefer habitats with high canopy closure.

They also prefer habitats with many hollow trees for dens.

Trees typically found in fisher habitats include spruce, fir, white cedar and some hardwoods. Also, as would be expected, their habitat preference reflects that of their favored prey species.

Description

Fishers are a medium-size mammal.

Their bodies are long, thin, and low to the ground.

Males are between 35-47 inches in length normally and weigh between 8-11 lb.

Females measure 30-37 inches and weigh between 4-6 lb.

The largest ever male fisher recorded weighed 20 lb.

The fisher's fur changes with the season and differs between sexes.

The color ranges from deep brown to black and appears to be much blacker in the winter when displayed with a white snow background.

The underside of a fisher is almost completely brown except for randomly patches of white or cream colored fur.

Fishers have five toes on each foot with uncovered and retractable claws.

Their feet are disproportionately larger than their legs which makes it easier for them to move on top of snow packs.

In addition to the toes, there are four central pads on each foot.

A circular patch of hair on the central pad of their hind paws marks plantar glands that give off a distinctive odor.

Reproduction

The breeding season is late winter and early spring, from March to May and the gestation takes almost a year.

The average number of young in a litter is 3, but can be from 1 to 6.

Healthy females first breed at age 1, produce their first litter at age 2, and probably breed every year after that.

So females essentially spend almost all of their adult life in a state of pregnancy.

Males breed for the first time when they are two years old.

Young fishers are born blind and nearly naked and the eyes open after about 53 days

By the time they are four months old, the young are able to hunt for themselves and are on their own at least one month later.

Most dens in which young fishers are raised is normally high up in hollow trees, and females may choose to move their young up to several times if the litter is endangered.

Male fishers do not help raise their young

Fishers can live up to ten years in the wild.

Tree Climbers

They are agile and speedy tree climbers, but they usually move on the ground.

They are quite solitary and there is little evidence that they ever travel together, except possibly during the mating season.

Fishers use resting sites such as logs, hollow trees, stumps, holes in the ground, brush piles and nests of branches.

Ground burrows are most commonly used in the winter, and tree nest during the summer.

During the winter they also use snow dens that are burrows under the snow with long and narrow tunnels leading to them.

Fishers are active during the day and night and may be agile swimmers.

Fishers have few predators except for man.

Have You Seen A Fisher

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      sue 19 months ago

      we just saw a fisher run through our partially wooded back yard for the 2nd time in the past month we live in the coloma/westfield wi area

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      Roy Peterson 2 years ago

      I saw a black Fisher on 8-17-15, and on 8-18-15 at 2:00 pm, one came right up to my house bird bath, it was a larger, gray, brown back with a black patch on his head, and a jet black long tail. My house is on 5 acres of wooded land in the town of Vinland in Wisconsin

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thanks, but they really did not do much for us other than issue us a permit, but we were unable to catch it. We aren't trappers. I don't understand it's need to come after my cats this time of year! Unless it's to get rid of the competitors. I couldn't believe my eyes! I am positive it was a fisher. It looked just like the video and I watched it run up the hill. I thought it was nocturnal! And the d.n.r is so understaffed. Ugh!

    • Riverman57 profile image
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      Larry 4 years ago from Hayward, Wisconsin

      @anonymous: You might try calling the DNR and see if they will try to trap.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: We live in Eau Claire, wi

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Last year, one killed my favorite cat behind our garage. Yesterday, around 4:45, one was just starting to come onto our deck!!! I can't believe I was fortunate enough to notice. Our cat was in an outside cat tent which I thought was keeping her safe. On our deck!!! Does anyone have any advice as to what to do!

    • Riverman57 profile image
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      Larry 4 years ago from Hayward, Wisconsin

      @anonymous: It is possible, but they are normally are more weary.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Aarrgghhh! I think there's one under my porch! Saw it twice! Can that be?

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Dec 5, 2012, 4pm outside Fort Frances, northwestern Ontario. I've lived here 8 years and just saw a fisher for the first time in my yard near the tree line of the woods. He was trying to sneak up on a ruffed grouse hiding in some underbrush.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      its nov. 17 2012. I'm hunting in the experimental forest in the white mtns in Bartlett n.h.. it was approximetly 8:30am when I came apon a Fisher about 150 yds of the trail. it was a beautiful animal approx 4 feet long and about12 to 15 inches high. it crossed the trail twice and looked at me both times. the second time it ran back across the trail and a 3to400 lb black bear chased it. it ran upa tree and disappeared.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Hopefully no one wipes them out. I saw one too in March 2012 in Shelbourne

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      I live in northern wisconsin and just saw my first Fisher. We live near a river and have serveral mowed trails that lead back and forth and I saw it running down one of the trails. My husband said he saw it last fall while deer hunting too. So cool!

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      Last week I was walking along a rural, dirt road near Shelburne Ontario and I saw a fisher run across the road toward a farm property. He was quite far away but on checking pictures, I made a positive identification.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      This wee I have seen a Fisher, perhaps the same one, several days in a row in the Rocky River Reservation in Rocky River, Ohio. Seems to have a range of about 3 miles if it's the same one. I saw it once during mid-day and twice around dusk.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      I believe I saw a fisher this morning while hunting in Wisconsin Rapids, WI.

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Have taken pictures of a Fisher in Guelph Ontario,I have seen the Fisher 3 times in broad daylight..

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      trezpazz 6 years ago

      Good one...kudos.

    • Riverman57 profile image
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      Larry 7 years ago from Hayward, Wisconsin

      @anonymous: Thanks for your input.

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      anonymous 7 years ago

      We have fishers in our area. Midland Ontario...They are the most visious hunters I have heard. They kill with no mercy. The high shrill sounded when they attack sounds like a small child screaming for their life. If you have heard this sound close to your home you can be sure your cats and small animals are at risk of being killed by one of these savage hunters. Keep your animals in or very close to home.

    • FlynntheCat1 profile image

      FlynntheCat1 7 years ago

      Wow, never heard of this animal!