Creature Feature

Creature Feature – Porcupines & Fishers in Winter

Posted by  //  February 20, 2023  //  Articles, Creature Feature

Porcupines don’t hibernate in winter, but during bouts of severe weather they seek shelter inside hollow logs and trees, under stumps, windfalls and rock ledges, or in the abandoned burrows of other animals.  When porcupines aren’t waiting out fierce storms or hiding from hungry fishers, these specialized rodents spend most of their time in trees, just resting or feeding on the bark of thinner branches.  They have dexterous hind feet which help secure a safer perch — nevertheless, porcupines do fall from trees and impale themselves.  In wintertime, their bulky profiles are easier to spy among the naked tree limbs, and while they are primarily nocturnal, porkies may be observed foraging during the day.

Fishers remain active this time of year but they too may hunker down during bouts of harsh weather.  Typically, they must expand their winter hunting range as prey becomes harder to find.  As fishers hunt for porcupines, rabbits and squirrels, they follow well-used trails, traveling both on the ground and through the trees.  Sometimes, when a fisher drops down from a tree into deep snow, it leaves behind a full body impression, including its long, thick tail.  Fishers are one of the few mammals that effectively prey on porcupines which helps keep porcupine populations under control.  However, they aren’t always victorious during these epic battles.  In fact, fishers can get seriously injured or even killed by the sharp barbs of their quilled quarry.

Article by Margie Manthey
Photo by Tammy Nash

Leave a Comment

comm comm comm