What is a Fisher Cat?
The Fisher Cat
is a North American marten, which is a medium sized mustelid cat. The Fisher cat has a slender body that is quite agile in trees, allowing it to pursue its prey more efficiently. Despite the fact that this cat is called the Fisher Cat, it seldom does any fishing or eats any fish at all.
The name Fisher Cat likely originates from the French word "fichet", which originally referred to the pelt and fur coat of a European polecat.
In some regions the Fisher Cat is known as pekan, which is derived from the original name in the Abenaki language.
The Fisher Cat is commonly found in the Sierra Nevada in California through to the Appalachian Mountains in West Virginia and north to New England, where it is commonly referred to as the Fisher Cat, and not just 'Fisher', in other parts of the country. The Fisher Cat is also found throughout the southern end of Alaska and throughout Canada.
Fisher Cats also thrive in the Rocky Mountains. They thrive in coniferous areas or mixed forests that provide continuous canopy cover.
Adult Fisher Cats usually weigh in between two and seven kilograms (four to 15 pounds) and are between 29 and 47 inches in length. The male Fisher Cat are usually twice the size of the females. - the smallest female has been recorded at 3.1 pounds and the largest male recorded at nearly 20 pounds.
Fisher Cats have a dark brown coat with black tail and legs. Some of them have a cream colored patch on their chest. Their feet feature five toes on each foot with retractable claws and can rotate their back feet 180 degrees allowing them to grasp onto the limbs of trees and climb down head first.
The Fisher Cat is notable for one of their calls which sounds like a child screaming, however there is little evidence that their call is like that. There have been many witnesses that note that the Fisher Cat call does sound like a scream, and that they may use the call to communicate and call to each other in the forest.
Fisher Cats are sole hunters, only getting together for mating purposes. They feed primarily on small herbivores and omnivores such as shrews, squirrels, porcupines and mice. Fisher Cats are the only predator that hunts and eats porcupines and they do so by biting its face repeatedly until it bleeds to death, rolling it over and eating from the belly.
Female Fisher Cats breed at one year old - the breeding season starts in late February and lasts through until late April. The gestation period is one year long because of a 10-month delay in the implanting of the blastocyst phase of the embryo.
Fisher Cats are shy and secretive and have proven difficult to breed in zoos. They hide deep within wooded areas but their population declined due to the loss of suitable habitat in forests for them. The breed was introduced to North America again in hopes of controlling porcupines. There have been some reported attacks by Fisher Cats on domestic cats, however none have been ultimately proven. The attacks are documented but zoologists have noted that bob cats, coyotes and dogs are much more likely to hunt and kill domestic cats and even chickens.
The Fisher Cat
is wide spread through North America and are a beautiful animal that is shy, secretive and does a lot to help control the population of porcupines throughout the country.