The Fisher: A Small But Mighty Hunter

Can you guess which animal this is?

They are ferocious and exceptional hunters. They regularly feed on porcupines, which in itself is amazing for any animal to do. In some ways they are like a mini-wolverine. Most people have never heard of this small, yet extremely tough carnivore. 

If you guessed the Fisher, you are right. 

You might have seen the post on our Facebook feed last year in May 2018 with videos of the animal in the comments that caused a lot of discussion wether a wolverine was spotted in Wilden. Maybe it was a Fisher after all? 😁

First of all, the Fisher has nothing to do with fishing. This tough little animal is part of the weasel family.  Fishers have long bodies, short legs, little round ears, a pointed muzzle, and a fluffy long tail. Their fur colouring varies, but is mostly dark brown.

They are similar in size to a big house cat and typically weigh between 3.5-7kg.  Female Fishers are smaller and they can weigh as little as 2 kg.  The Fishers are just under a meter long from nose to tail tip.

Fishers are solitary and keep to themselves; yet, they have been misunderstood and villainized over the years. Fishers do not scream mercilessly at night, nor do they wait in the forest to attack people. The truth is they are shy creatures that typically avoid people and developed areas.

The Fisher has sharp retractable claws, and teeth that can rip, puncture and grind. It prefers the snowshoe hare for food, but they also eat, squirrels, chipmunks, voles, birds, berries, fruit, carrion, and as mentioned the porcupine. Beside being great hunter they also have excellent hearing, sight and smell. Fishers are extremely fast and agile and they can climb trees better than a squirrel! To catch their prey they attack from behind using the element of surprise. This style of attack is also used by the wolverine another member of the weasel family. 

Fisher versus Wolverine: Some comparisons and facts.

  • it is unlikely that there are Wolverines in the Wilden area, but not impossible
  • even though the Fisher is much smaller, they have been confused with the Wolverine, (Wolverine males are between 12 and 18 Kg, and females are between 8 and 12 kg)
  •  both are similar in colour and shape
  • both have retractable claws
  • the Wolverine hunts by climbing trees or boulders, from which they jump onto the backs of large unsuspecting prey
  • the Wolverine preys on moose, caribou, small mammals, carrion and sometimes vegetation
  • both have extremely strong jaws with sharp teeth
  • both are remarkably strong for their size
  • like the fisher the wolverine is shy and rarely seen by humans in the wild
  • wolves, bears and cougars will prey on wolverines, but not without a fierce fight

 

The small but mighty Fisher has many more fascinating facts to be discovered online or at the library. What is your favourite fact about the Fisher?

 

– Article bt Flora McLeod