The “fisher cat” is not a cat but a weasel. They can ʜᴜɴᴛ various animals and are one of the most potent ʜᴜɴᴛᴇʀs in North America.
Found in the forests of Canada and the northern United States, the fisher (Pekania pennanti) is one of the most unique and remarkable animals. A member of the weasel family, this creature is notoriously elusive and shy. To those who have met them, they always think they are gentle, innocent animals.
But beneath its seemingly alluring exterior lies the heart of a true predator. Although their name is fisher cat, they do not catch fish and are not cats. Instead, this animal mainly ʜᴜɴᴛs rodents, birds, amphibians, small reptiles, and insects. It is also one of the few mammals brave enough to hunt porcupines. In addition, very few animals in the habitat can ᴛʜʀᴇᴀᴛᴇɴ them, except for humans.
# A Unique Animal With A Misleading Name
Up to 40 inches (more than 1 meter), the fishing cat has a rather slender body with a long tail (about a third of the total body length).
According to Mass Audubon, this animal can weigh nearly 10kg and has four short but agile legs with partially retractable claws, allowing it to quickly climb forest trees and jump up to more than 2 meters high.
Fishing cats also have glossy coats ranging from grayish brown to dark brown, black-brown. About 100 years ago, the skin of this animal was precious in the fur trade. This has resulted in them being ʜᴜɴᴛᴇᴅ to near ᴇxᴛɪɴᴄᴛɪᴏɴ in some parts of their North American range.
But fortunately for the fishing cat, it is no longer nearly ᴇxᴛɪɴᴄᴛ today. According to Live Science, successful reintroduction and habitat restoration have ensured the survival of this species in Canada and the United States (especially in the Northeast and Northwest). On top of that, animal fur has fallen out of favor in modern times, so they are also less likely to be ʜᴜɴᴛᴇᴅ.
While this is great news for fishing cats and environmentalists, what’s less exciting is if they grow too quickly and get too close to humans, domestic dogs, and cats. Yours may become their dinner.
# Voracious Animals
Despite their relatively small size, fishing cats are very voracious eaters. This carnivorous creature hunts hares, squirrels, mice, moles, chickens, amphibians, and insects. It also eats nuts and fruit if it can’t find an animal to ʜᴜɴᴛ. Notably, the fishing cat also enjoys eating porcupines, which are notoriously difficult to kill.
According to The New York Times, a woman named Kerry Beaudry told how a fishing cat ᴀᴛᴛᴀᴄᴋᴇᴅ her German Shepherd in Rhode Island in 2007. The fishing cat ɢʀᴀʙʙᴇᴅthe dog’s neck and gnawed on its face until Beaudry’s husband drove him away with a broom.
Unfortunately, what happened to Beaudry’s poor dog was no exception. In recent years, fishing cats have become infamous for ᴀᴛᴛᴀᴄᴋɪɴɢ domestic and farm animals, especially in the Northeast United States.
Furthermore, fishing cats can ᴋɪʟʟ multiple animals at once (sometimes to satisfy their predatory instincts) in a small space, which can cause trouble if it finds its way into a chicken coop.
Perhaps not surprisingly, this has led to the frustration and anxiety of many pet owners and farmers in areas where fishing cats roam.
# What Will Their Future Look Like?
While fishing cats may have been in ᴅᴀɴɢᴇʀ of disappearing decades ago, that is far from the case today. Conservation and reforestation efforts have ensured that this animal will thrive in North America for the foreseeable future.
Since the fishing cat has few ᴇɴᴇᴍɪᴇs besides humans, it has little to fear in the wild – even for larger animals. In fact, according to National Geographic, fishing cats can successfully knock down animals many times their size, including the Canadian lynx. It is believed to be able to do this by ꜰᴀᴛᴀʟʟʏ biting the lynx’s neck or head.
Scott McLellan, an inland Maine wildlife biologist, explains: “There isn’t any limit to the size of the animal a fishing cat will ᴀᴛᴛᴀᴄᴋ. They are a very opportunistic animal; if you make them ᴀɴɢʀʏ, they will be ready to ᴀᴛᴛᴀᴄᴋ to ᴅᴇᴀᴛʜ.”
While fishing cats can be frustrating for farmers and ranchers, they also play an essential role in the environment, especially when controlling rats and harmful rodents. Humans must learn to live with fishing cats instead of against them.
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