Monday, December 1, 2014

A Fisher in the early morning snow.

Fisher tracks in snow

Here is a good example of an unusual pattern that fishers
leave behind.  1,2,3,4 skip 1,2,3,4 skip  They can also make
a bounding pattern where all the tracks land together.
The day after Thanksgiving, I found signs of a exciting nighttime visitor, a fisher.  As I walked out back I found a trail from an animal with tracks that were as big as the tracks of my 45lb dog.  However, these tracks were not a dog's they wider and shorter than a typical dog track.  The tracks meandered all around circling trees, leaving a squiggly trail.  I saw where the fisher must have jumped to catch something, or just rolled around in the snow.  I confirmed my suspicions by looking up fisher tracks on the internet.  Fishers have 5 toes instead of 4 toes like a dog or cat.  Since they are long and short-legged, aka weasel shaped, they have different gates than a typical dog.  I saw both these traits in the set of prints left in snow.  

Fishers are one of the larger members of weasel or Mustelidae family, and is about the length of a red fox.  Connecticut is home to several Mustelidae including from smallest to largest: ermine, long tailed weasel, american mink, fisher, and northern river otter.  As you've probably noticed this mammal family has many members that are famous for thick fine fur needed for survival in cold northern winters. 

Fisher tracks going up the photo, dog tracks going horizontal.
See how wide and short the fisher tracks
are compared to the round dog tracks.
The dogs also have 4 large toes and the fisher has 5 small toes.  

A fisher in snow, cute isn't it, but not if you are a chicken, or a squirrel.
Fishers, also called fisher cats, are oddly named because of all the things they eat, fish is not one of them.  I'm told fishers eat a lot of squirrels since they can climb trees with retractable cat-claws. Fishers, once very rare, have come back to Connecticut as the state's forests have regrown as farming has decreased.  The other day I saw something that I wanted to turn into a fisher, but chalked it up to just a house cat.  But it seemed long, bounded just a little oddly, and made me pause.  Perhaps, it was after all a fisher.  I want to believe it was.

Another fun note:
I contributed this week's mystery seed challenge to Growing with Science. I follow Roberta's Blog with her weekly seed and insect challenges, children's science and nature book reviews, and other enjoyable posts.  If you'd like to make a guess at the mystery seed check out Growing with Science.
(here is the answer to the mystery seed)

Happy belated Thanksgiving everybody!