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Fisher Dines On Two Flying Squirrels

3-1-18 fisher scat and flying squirrel tails 049A3138 (1)Although Coyote tracks led me to this kill site, the Coyote was only inspecting the remains of two Flying Squirrels. Fisher tracks and scat confirmed that it was the predator.

Deciphering the story in the snow was possible through a familiarity with certain details of both the predator and prey. A Flying Squirrel’s tail is distinctively flattened, and the fur on it is very light and silky. There is no mistaking it for any other animal’s. (This would be difficult to discern from a photograph!) One entire squirrel’s tail was in a depression, where the squirrel had unsuccessfully sought shelter in a tunnel it had started to dig. The second tail had been ripped into bits and pieces. The Fisher claimed its kill and/or territory by depositing its characteristically small, twisted, pointed scat at the kill site. (Not an uncommon practice of many predators.)  Always fun to be able to piece together some of the drama that occurs nightly in our woods and fields.

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13 responses

  1. John Ross Cannon

    Hi Mary. Thanks for this wonderful look into the mysteries that surround and elude us.

    March 2, 2018 at 8:33 am

  2. Alice Pratt

    Predator and prey…two very descriptive words.

    March 2, 2018 at 8:40 am

  3. Sara Hart

    Mary, thank you for the wonderful explanation. Would you have a hypothesis about the two flying squirrels side by side? Were they mates? Or siblings? Or just a pure coincidence for the fisher to catch both of them in the same place? Curious to hear what you think. Thank you!

    March 2, 2018 at 9:20 am

    • My guess is that the tree-climbing fisher discovered a cavity of flying squirrels huddled together to keep warm (which they do in very cold weather). But it is a pure guess!

      March 2, 2018 at 1:06 pm

  4. Mary, thank you for revealing this small drama. Your post may answer a question I’ve been carrying all week about small diggings in the woodland snow that looked like the work of red squirrels but had no trail of tracks leading to them…just a few small prints near the holes. Flying squirrels, perhaps.

    Hope you’re getting the snowy end of this storm up your way. 8″ already here in elevated SE Vermont.

    March 2, 2018 at 9:35 am

  5. So interesting! I’m also curious about how the fisher managed to catch two flying squirrels in the same predatory session?

    March 2, 2018 at 10:33 am

  6. pat shields

    how was it able to kill two squirrels, maybe at a different time when one was inspecting the other dead one? Pat

    March 2, 2018 at 11:22 am

    • I honestly don’t know, though I have seen them congregate at my bird feeders at night. They also huddle together during very cold spells — perhaps the fisher dragged them out of a cavity?

      March 2, 2018 at 1:03 pm

  7. Pat

    I’m glad you’re still seeing evidence of fisher. I used to see their tracks regularly here, but pretty infrequently now. There was even a podcast about that last year. http://nhpr.org/post/something-wild-nh-fisher-numbers-are-down-why#stream/0 Be sure to check the Update at the end of the page.

    March 2, 2018 at 11:26 am

    • Thanks so much, Pat. Excellent article. I have noticed a tremendous drop in fisher sign this winter. Even more than last year. This was only the second time I had an opportunity to see them this winter, when in the past, I could see them every day if I wanted to.

      March 2, 2018 at 1:02 pm

  8. Bill On The Hill...

    Tremendous observation Mary! Both the fisher cat & the wolverine, members of the weasel family I believe… I very recently watched a Nat Geo or PBS documentary on the latter of the two. For so long, such a mysterious creature and so little was known about it…
    Now a pattern is beginning to immerge on the most allusive wolverine!
    Great post once again!
    Bill Farr…

    March 2, 2018 at 11:46 am

  9. flying squirrel

    there should be a law against killing flying squirrels!!!

    March 3, 2018 at 7:25 am

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