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Fishers (Fisher Cat) A Forest Predator
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.