Fisher- The Porcupine Predator

By Melissa Wynn

The fisher, also known as a North American marten, is a dark brownish member of the weasel family. Some individuals have a cream colored patch on the chest and the legs and tail are always black. Their long slender body is optimum for hunting in tree hollows and ground burrows. All 4 paws have 5 toes with semi-retractable claws that make tree climbing a breeze for these agile hunters. Fishers are the largest of the marten family ranging in size from 4 to 9 pounds with males being nearly twice the size of females. But don’t let the small size fool you, fuzzy and cute as they may be, this a vicious predator. Just ask your local porcupine.

Fisher are one of few predators that have mastered the technique of hunting the prickly porcupine with its armor of spikes. Speed and sheer determination help the fisher execute the kill. They first attack head on, going for the vulnerable face where the porcupine has no quills. The porcupine in turn spins around to point its spines at the fisher. The fisher then jumps directly over its prey, forcing the porcupine to keep turning to protect its vulnerable head. A dozen or more such maneuvers suffice to exhaust and confuse the porcupine into a stupor in which it can no longer protect itself. Then, by repeatedly biting and scratching at the porcupine’s face, the fisher causes it to bleed to death. The fisher eats the porcupine by flipping the dead animal over and starting with its unprotected belly. Fisher also eat mice, squirrels, shrews and ground nesting birds like grouse and quail. A hunter of opportunity, they will also rob nests of their eggs.

Who would have guessed that these fearless balls of fur hold the title porcupine predator? Pretty cool. You learn something new every day.