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Mammals
 Photos provided courtesy of: Gerry Kehoe - Innitou-Photo.com
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Unless otherwise noted, "Woburn Wildlife" photos were provided courtesy of: Gerry Kehoe of Innitiou Photo. Gerry, a WREN member, is local naturalist and accomplished nature photographer. You can view more of Gerry's work at: www.innitou-photo.com or email: mothernature@rcn.com

 

 Mammals-Gray Squirrel-01
 Mammals-Eastern Cottontail-01
 Mammals-Eastern Chipmunk-01
 Red Bridge Visitor - Earth Day 2006

Several people responded to the question of whether the fellow we saw under Horn Pond's Red Bridge on Earth Day 2006 looked more like a weasel or some other creature. Below are the various things people had to say, starting with those who did not get to see the actual animal.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the 'Weasel vs. Whatever' debate, and especially thanks to Claire Brannely for capturing a photo of a very active guy.

  • Wow! I only heard about these animals about 2 years ago and from what I read, they were very elusive, due to being more likely to be active during nighttime hours. But this is a very clear, day time photo.

    While I'm not an expert, a comparison of other images (Google images) on the internet shows more consistency with identifying the photo on the WREN site as a fisher, not a weasel (although these species are apparently closely related). The weasel images show white in the neck area, and enough of the neck is visible in the WREN photo to show that it is brown. Also, the ears and fullness of the face are more consistent with other fisher photos. For a comparison to a good close-up of a weasel, see:

    http://www.westwildcon.org/photo/gallery/weasel.jpg

  • Couldn't find many pictures of the Fisher Cat on the web - they must be elusive - but did find this very interesting Wild Things site which has a picture - looks a lot like the picture on the WREN site. Also the Wolverine looks similar. Maybe this is the 'large cat' which has been reported in Burlington and environs...

    http://home.mcn.net/~wtu/fisher.html

  • I did a Google search of Images for weasels, and they do have the shorter rounder snout and rounder ears like in the WREN photo. The fisher seems to have a much longer pointed snout, but the coloring is similar.

    Here are two long-tailed weasel photos:
    http://www.westwildcon.org/photo/gallery/weasel.jpg
    http://biology.wsc.ma.edu/mammals/gifs/weasel.jpg

    This is the University of Michigan Zoology web site on Weasels - they do eat rabbits! Learn something new every day!!
    http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Mustela_frenata.html

  • It's almost surely a mink.

    Fishers are not known to be great swimmers, whereas mink definitely are. Fishers are larger than even a large cat, but minks are relatively small, and this looks like a small mustid.

    Not a weasel, because weasels are lighter in color, but fishers and minks are both dark brown.

Here are comments from people who got to see the fellow dragging a rabbit under the Red Bridge, running back and forth for several seconds, and eventually swimming away up Fowle Brook:

  • I was one person who initially suggested that the mammal under the bridge was a weasel. I did re-think that later in the day - it was too large to be a weasel -- but (in my opinion) it was neither large enough nor bulky enough to be a fisher. (The animal was carrying a rabbit - and it was not much bigger than the rabbit.)

    By size and swimming ability, I would suggest a mink - I did not see the white patch under the chin that I have noticed before.

    (There is that white patch in the photo on the side of the neck - ?)

    Here are the relative sizes of the possible mustelids (from the Peterson Mammals field guide):

    Fisher: 20'-25' + tail: 13'-15'
    Mink: Males: 13'-17' + tail: 7-9' / Females: 12'-14' + tail: 5'-8'

    (Weasel: Shorttail male: 6'-9' / Longtail male: 9'-10.5')

    (The rabbit: 14'-17')

  • I had the advantage of being there myself and getting a good view. I have seen a Fisher on the trail up to Horn Pond Mountain before and have seen a dead one up close. With my vote I don't believe this was a Fisher. This animal was smaller and sleek while the Fisher is more stocky and powerful. What I not sure about is what a young Fisher would appear like. Here is a link to a good photo:

    http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/dfw_fisher.htm

    Be interested to know if any of our members can be more definitive than I.

 Squirrels
This unusual squirrel has been living in our neighborhood for about a year, and like other squirrels, he has become a frequent visitor to our bird feeder. He appears to be the same size as a gray squirrel, but with a tan/red body and an almost blond tail. I have wondered what caused this distinctive appearance: is it a genetic mutation (a squirrel equivalent to an albino), or is it a mixed breed with the red squirrels in our neighborhood? It appears he is in low standing with other squirrels, as invariably he runs away when confronted by them. Perhaps they, too, realize he is different. Squirrels are apparently in need of diversity training. Whatever their perception, we think he's attractive and interestingly different.

'The Eastern Gray Squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis, is found in wooded, suburban, and urban areas statewide. It is usually light to dark grayish brown with a white or buff underside but may also be all white or blonde with a white underside. It has small, rounded ears. Its long (7.5-9') tail is flattened and bushy. The tips of the hairs on the tail are white or gray. It is 16-20' long.' From http://www.nsis.org/wildlife/mamm/squirrel.html

Clare L. Hurley, M.M.
Woburn, MA