|Martes pennanti (Erxleben)[Extirpated]|
Don Linzey & Christy Brecht
Wytheville Community College
Wytheville, Virginia 24382
Last updated: 26 November, 2005
- Adult total length:
32 - 40 in. (810 - 1,040 mm)
13 - 16 in. (330 - 400 mm)
- Hind foot:
4 1/4 - 5 1/2 in. (108 - 140 mm)
3 - 12 lbs. (1.3 - 5.4 kg)
The fisher is a large dark brown to nearly black
weasel-like animal with a bushy, tapering tail.
White-tipped hairs give the animal a frosted apperarance.
The native range of the fisher is presently across Canada and
south into the New England states and New York.
||Dogs, cats, bears, etc.
||Otter, Weasels, and Mink
The fisher inhabits large, heavily wooded areas consisting of spruce, fir,
or mixed hardwood trees. It also inhabits timbered northern bogs and swamps.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park:
Linzey and Linzey (1968) discussed the possible presence
of the fisher in the park:
It is uncertain whether the fisher ever occurred in
the area encompassed by the Park. Miller and Kellogg
(1955) noted that this animal was
found as far south as North Carolina. This range was
extended by Parmalee (1960), who
found the jawbone of a fisher in Bartow County,
Georgia. Audubon and Bachman (1846)
stated: "We have seen several skins procured in east
Tennessee..." During a journey of several hundred miles
through the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina
during the summer of 1887, Merriam (
1888) found no trace of the fisher, which he refers
to as the "Pekan."
The fisher was successfully restocked in West Virginia in 1969.
The animals are reproducing and several have been observed in
western Virginia. The possibilty of reintroducing the fisher to
the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has been discussed.
After examining various aspects of the animal's biology and
its potential effects on other species, the decision was made
not to proced at the present time.
Breeding usually occurs in early spring a few days after parturition.
Following a gestation of approximately 353 days, a litter of one to
five (average three) young are born. Within a week the female has
mated again. The extremely long gestation is accounted for by the fact
that fishers experience delayed implantation. A fertilized egg starts
its development as it travels down the oviduct. Reaching the uterus
in the blastocyst stage, it then becomes inactive, the metabolic rate
falls, and cell division ceases. The unimplanted blastocyst remains
quiescent for a period of ten to eleven months before implantation and
normal development resumes.
Newborn young are altricial and are sparsely furred. The eyes open at
about seven weeks of age. Young fishers remain in the den for about
three months, after which they travel with the female until fall when
the family breaks up.
Fishers have lived 10 years in the wild and over 10 years in captivity
- Terrestrial Ecology
Fishers are nocturnal and are active all year. They climb well, and
although they spend a considerable amount of time foraging and resting
in trees, their activity is predominantly terrestrial (
Powell, 1981). They are solitary animals except during the beeding
Fishers avoid open places with no overhead cover such as fields, roads,
burns, and open bogs. They run when crossing open spaces and frequently
minimize the amount of open distance to be crossed.
Dens are located primarily in hollow trees and in log piles. Occasionally,
fishers will occupy crevices and spaces beneath large rocks and boulders.
They do not burrow. Fishers can swim if necessary, but despite their name,
they do not catch fish.
Squirrels, chipmunks, mice, woodchucks, rabbits, hares, and porcupines
comprise the main food of fishers. Fruits and nuts may be eaten when
- Predators and Defense
No predators recorded from the park.
None recorded from the park.
Links to Other Sites
- Special Protection Status
- In Park:
All plants and animals are protected within
Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Collection requires a permit which is usually
granted only for
research or educational purposes.
- Map development
- Web page design & coding
- Denise Lim, University of Georgia, Athens
- John Pickering, University of Georgia, Athens
Audubon, J.J., and J. Bachman. 1846.
The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America,
Vol. I. J. J. Audubon, NY.
Linzey, D.W., and A.V. Linzey. 1968.
Mammals of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society
Linzey, D.W., and A. V. Linzey. 1971.
Mammals of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.
Linzey, D. W. 1995a.
Mammals of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Blacksburg, Virginia: The McDonald & Woodward Publishing
Linzey, D. W. 1995b.
Mammals of Great Smoky Mountains National Park-1995 Update.
Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society 111(1):1-81.
Linzey, D. W. 1998.
The Mammals of Virginia. Blacksburg, Virginia: The
McDonald & Woodward Publishing Company, Inc.
Merriam, C. H. 1888.
Remarks on the fauna of the Great Smoky Mountains; with
description of a new species of red-backed mouse (Evotomys
Carolinensis). American Journal of Science 3rd Series 36
Miller, G.S., and R. Kellogg. 1955.
List of North American Recent Mammals. U. S. National Museum
Bulletin 205. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.
Parmalee, P. W. 1960.
A prehistoric record of the fisher in Georgia. Journal of
Mammalogy 41(3): 409-410.
Powell, R. A. 1981.
Martes pennanti. Mammalian Species No. 156: 1-6.
American Society of Mammalogists.
Strickland, M. A., C. W. Douglas, M. Novak and N. P. Hunzinger. 1982.
Fisher. Pages 586-598. In: J. A. Chapman and C. A. Feldhamer, eds.
Wild Mammals of North America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins
Last modified: 8 May, 2002