Fisher vs. Mink

Difference Between Fisher And Mink Fisher Despite its name, the fisher, a type of marten, prefers to eat…

Difference Between Fisher And Mink


Despite its name, the fisher, a type of marten, prefers to eat porcupines rather than fish. The fisher is one of few predators clever and vicious enough to kill these spine-covered animals. A fisher will chase a porcupine up a tree and then attack it from above. The fisher bites at the porcupine’s face, one of the few parts of its body not protected by sharp quills. In this way the fisher inflicts so many small wounds that the unfortunate porcupine eventually dies. The fisher then gobbles its meal with gusto, leaving nothing more than a bloody shell of skin and spines.

Fisher marten are particularly well adapted for hunting in the trees. A fisher can turn its paws 180 degrees so that they face backward. It then digs its long, sharp claws into the bark of a tree trunk, for an amazingly firm grip. From this anchor the fisher can literally hang upside down to attack porcupines, birds, and other prey. Nature has also designed the fisher’s paws to work well on snow. The broad paws enable this creature to run across a fresh blanket of deep snow without sinking.

The fisher is the largest of the true marten. Like their cousins the weasels, marten are hunted for their beautiful fur. Marten have much larger, bushier tails than weasels. They also tend to be bigger, faster, and more agile than their weaselly relatives.


Mink, a small, swift, agile member of the weasel family, Mustelidae, that is highly valued for its pelt. The two species are the American mink, Mustela vison, which inhabits Canada, Alaska, and the lower 48 states (except for parts of the southwest), and the European mink, M. lutreola, found from France to western Siberia and the Caucasus. The mink belongs to the order Carnivora, in the class Mammalia.

Physical Characteristics and Habitat

Adult male mink have a combined head-and-body length of 11 to 17 inches (28 to 43 cm) and a bushy tail that is 5 to 9 inches (12 to 23 cm) long. Male European mink can weigh up to 1.5 pounds (0.7 kg), while male American mink can weigh from 1.5 to 5 pounds (0.7 to 2.3 kg). The females of both species are smaller than the males. The European mink is generally reddish brown to dark cinnamon in color, with somewhat paler underparts; a dense, short pelage; and, in some individuals, white fur on the chin, chest, and throat. The American mink has a soft pelage that varies in color from deep brown to a shade that is nearly black. The underparts are paler and sometimes have white spots.

At home in water and on land, the mink inhabits densely vegetated areas along lakes, streams, and rivers, with M. vison occupying swamps and marshes as well. Mink den sites include hollow trees, reed thickets, and the underside of roots or stones. The mink may also dig its own burrow, which in the case of the American mink may be about 10 feet (3 meters) long and 3 feet (1 meter) beneath the surface, with at least one entrance located above water level.

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