Just before starting this blog, I just realized something very important – that this will be my first blog about a mammal. About time, right?? Right! Now, time for my featured presentation: The FISHER CAT! Woot!
So, what do the following have in common: Purple Finch, Red Bellied Woodpecker, Sweet Fern and the Fisher cat? All are poorly named. The Purple Finch isn’t purple, the Red Bellied Woodpecker has a faint pink blotch on its belly, Sweet Fern isn’t a fern and the fisher cat isn’t a cat, and prefers to hunt on land. It belongs to elite group of critters I like to call “The Poorly Named Species Club.” It is actually quite a large club, indeed as there are many other species with names which describe qualities they don’t have. But enough about that, I want to focus on today’s subject: the fisher cat.
So, why are they called fisher cats? Good question! And I have an answer. It is because early English settlers in the region thought they looked like a European polecat. But instead of using the word polecat, they decided to use an old timer word for it, because you know that was back in old timer times. That old timer word being “fitch,” which then became fisher.[i] The Dutch and French settlers also had similar words for this animal as well.[ii] So with different European settlers living in in proximity to each other calling it roughly the same thing, the name fisher stuck. As for the “cat” part, I’m not sure, my sources don’t really say. I’m guessing it has something to do with the cat part of polecat. But I could be wrong. For all I know it could be Algonquin for the nasty thing that will eat your face off because it is a fucking asshole. So are there any Algonquin speakers out there in The Great Interwebs Land who can back me up on this? Any feedback would be great. Thanks.
Yeah, so it isn’t a cat. Well, what is it? It’s a giant weasel. And a rather unfriendly one at that. These things have a reputation for being mean and aggressive, kinda like that surly drunk at the bar, and you are wisely keeping a wise distance from him. Good idea, stay away from this fucker. He’s trouble. Keep your cats away from him, too, because the fisher cat thinks your Mr. Fluffybottom would make a good snack.
You know what else they like to snack on? Porcupines. Turns out they really love to eat are porcupines. It is their favorite thing to munch on. While most other predators would like to avoid a mouth full of quills, fisher cats know how to get around that issue. Basically, they charge the pointy haired rodent head on, bite his face off then flip him over. They then go straight for the soft underbelly, which just happens to be totally free of spiky quills.[iii] Victory for Fisher Cat!
And now for a quick description. Sure you got the picture, but how about some details to go along with it! Like I previously mentioned, it is a big-ass weasel. Like other members of the weasel family, it has an elongated body, which from nose to tail, a full grown adult could be anywhere from 3.5 to 4.3 feet long![iv] And they can weigh up to 18 pounds. Yeah, big for a weasel, but overall, not that big. However, what they lack in size, they more than make up for in meanness. Also, males are larger than females.[v] They have thick dark brown, almost blackish fur.[vi] At first impression, they look kinda like a cross between a dog, weasel, and bear. And one feline type quality they do have, is retractable claws.[vii] Good for climbing and catching prey and climbing up trees, and clawing up lawn furniture and faces. And about that climbing trees thing, their paws can rotate 180 degrees, so they can easily reverse direction while climbing, making going up and deal real easy.[viii]
Fisher cats are normally rather quiet. They prefer to be silent killers. However they do make sounds. But I should point out that Youtube is not the most reliable source for fisher cat sounds, as many of them are actually recordings of red foxes.[ix] So if you want to know what the fox says, you may want to look up fisher cat screams instead of Ylvis.
So yeah, that is the first mammal post. (Finally!) What next, first shark post, or poisonous critter post or perhaps another bug or flower, or something else entirely. I will leave that a surprise for you, reader. Until next time, later!
[iii] Whitaker Jr., John O. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mammals Completely Revised Version 1997 Chanticleer Press New York, pg 758
[iv] Whitaker Jr., John O. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mammals Completely Revised Version 1997 Chanticleer Press New York, pg 758
[v] Whitaker Jr., John O. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mammals Completely Revised Version 1997 Chanticleer Press New York, pg 758
[vi] Whitaker Jr., John O. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mammals Completely Revised Version 1997 Chanticleer Press New York, pg 758
[vii] Author Unknown “About Fishers” Mass Audubon Website http://www.massaudubon.org/learn/nature-wildlife/mammals/fishers/about 22SEP2017
[viii] Ryan, Fran “Fishers Among Most Misunderstood and Maligned Creatures in Region” Daily Hampshire Gazette, Northampton MA. 12OCT2016
[ix] Author Unknown “About Fishers” Mass Audubon Website http://www.massaudubon.org/learn/nature-wildlife/mammals/fishers/about 22SEP2017