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Fishers Scent Marking With Scat

1-13-16 fisher bed & scat 002Many animals communicate by scent marking in order to stake out territory. This is done through specialized glands on various parts of their bodies as well as with scat and urine. In addition to defining territory, scent marking may also communicate additional information such as the sex, reproductive status or dominance status of the territory-holder. Fishers are a prime example of a scent marking predator. In addition to scent marking with glands on their feet, fishers rub, urinate and deposit scat often near or on raised surfaces (stumps, rocks, saplings), where their scent is likely to be widely dispersed. Frequently scat will also be found near a fisher’s resting spot.

When marking with scat, fishers are somewhat unusual in that it appears that they can control the size of the scat they leave. While field guides say fisher scat is between two and seven inches in length and roughly ¾” in diameter, this is not always the case. (Neither is it always dark and twisted – some fruit, such as rotting apple in the pictured scat, will cause it to be lighter colored.) One wonders what determines the size of the scat that a fisher leaves. Does it plan on marking a great deal in the coming hours, and so parcels it out in bits and pieces so as not to run out? Or is a large amount not always necessary if it has back-up scent from its feet and body? The pictured scat (to the right of the depression a fisher left while resting at the base of a tree) is less than an inch long, and about 1/3” wide — roughly the size of a white ash seed. Chances are that after spending enough time in one place to melt crusty snow the fisher was capable of leaving far more feces, but it chose not to.

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7 responses

  1. Genevieve Martin

    Can you tell me when I owe you money again.  I cannot keep track.  1000 thank you for the formidable info you provide about nature.  I have enjoyed it with delight.

    January 14, 2016 at 8:10 am

  2. Al

    Mark Elbroch’s “Mammal Tracks and Sign” has a photo (p 639) of a similar marking spot that we found on Beech Hill in Keene. (Photo was taken by my ex-wife Sue Mansfield). There was a stump nearer to our house on Chapman Rd that a fisher visited regularly (often depositing scat) where we set up a trail cam and got some great pictures.

    January 14, 2016 at 10:04 am

  3. I want to contribute to your wonderful nature reports, but don’t see why I must use ” Paypal” I’d like to send it direct with credit card. Mary

    January 14, 2016 at 11:50 am

    • Hi Mary,
      Thank you so much. You can donate to my blog using Visa, Mastercard, Discovery or American Express credit cards…just click on “donate” and then on “continue” on the bottom left where it says “don’t have a Paypal account?” Your generosity is much appreciated.

      January 14, 2016 at 12:56 pm

  4. Wallie Hammer

    why do I get my Naturally Curious info a day ‘late’- my friend (who I turned onto this site and just joined) gets hers a day before me-Am I on the B list? It’s especially frustrating when there is a mystery photo- it’s like getting yesterday’s news today!
    Thank you for addressing this Mary
    Most sincerely
    Wallie

    January 15, 2016 at 9:30 am

    • Hi Wallie, I am so sorry about the day-late delivery of your post. One other person I know has this problem. My suggestion is to cancel your subscription and re-subscribe. I have no control over that end of things, unfortunately, but will do my best to find some way for you to contact WordPress, which is not an easy thing to do!

      January 15, 2016 at 9:35 am

  5. Wallie Hammer

    Hello Mary
    Why do I get my NC info a day late?
    It is especially frustrating when there is a mystery photo (which I usually get wrong or don’t get at all!)
    A loyal fan
    Wallie

    January 15, 2016 at 10:08 am

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