Fisher Cat Teeth

a fisher climbing over a fallente=ree trunk. The fisher is facing the left. Its mouth is open exposing its teeth. it is covered in reddish brown fur.
© Reimar/Shutterstock.com

Written by Kathryn Koehler

Updated: May 23, 2023

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The fisher (Pekania pennanti), part weasel, part ninja, and all-around adorable, is a cunning predator. Pekania pennanti is commonly called the fisher cat, though it is not a cat. It also rarely eats fish! It is a member of the weasel family(Mustelidae), and is native to the boreal forests of North America, with a range that includes Alaska, Canada, and the Northeastern United States. The fisher is a medium-sized carnivorous mammal, with a long, slender body and a bushy tail. Its fur is dark brown to black in color. Fishers are known for their elusiveness, and rightfully so, as their principal predators are humans (Homo sapiens), who hunt them for their eye-catching fur. So, what sort of teeth do these wary, winsome weasels possess? Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about fisher cat teeth.

What Kind of Teeth Do Fisher Cats Have?

Fishers’ teeth are composed of a hard, calcified substance called dentin, which is covered with an even harder layer of enamel. The teeth of Pekania pennanti are specialized for its diet, with sharp, pointed canines for tearing flesh and strong molars for crushing bones. As is characteristic of most mammals, fishers are born toothless. However, they will develop a set of milk teeth in their first months. These baby teeth will gradually be replaced by permanent teeth over several months.

Fisher Cat Milk Teeth

Fishers start to show their baby or deciduous teeth at around three to four weeks of age. These teeth are used for nursing and also for eating primary foods. Fishers have a total of 28 baby teeth, which consist of 12 incisors, 4 canines, and 12 premolars. These baby teeth emerge over a period of three to four weeks. Fishers will have a full set of deciduous teeth by the time they are eight weeks old. These baby teeth will eventually fall out and be replaced by their permanent teeth.

Fishers begin to develop their permanent teeth when they are approximately 4 – 5 months old. The timing varies among individuals and is partially dependent on their environment. The process of replacing the milk teeth with permanent teeth usually takes several months and is complete when the fisher is between 8 – 10 months old. During this time the fisher may experience some discomfort or pain as the new teeth come in, chewing on objects to help alleviate their discomfort.

Young Fisher (Pekania pennanti) climbs over a log.

Fishers begin to show their baby or

deciduous teeth

at around three to four weeks of age.

©Holly Kuchera/Shutterstock.com

Fisher Cat Permanent Teeth

Fishers have 38 permanent teeth: 12 incisors, 4 canines, 10 premolars, and 12 molars. Fishers are carnivorous, and their sharp, strong, teeth are adapted for hunting and eating a variety of prey including birds, eggs, fruit, rabbits, squirrels, porcupines, and carrion.  The teeth are arranged in upper and lower pairs.

Incisors

The incisors are the sharp, chisel-like teeth located in the front of a fisher’s mouth. Fishers have 12. Six are located on the top, and six are located on the bottom. The incisors are used for grasping and holding onto prey. In addition, they are used for tearing and cutting food into smaller pieces that can be more easily swallowed. Fishers also use their incisors for self-defense, as they are capable of delivering a powerful bite to an attacker or predator.

Canines

The four canines are the long, pointed teeth located on either side of the front incisors in a fisher’s mouth. They are designed to pierce and hold onto prey and are used to deliver the fatal bite to small prey animals such as squirrels, and birds. The canines are also important for defending against predators.
Fishers are known to be fierce and agile predators, and their sharp, strong canines are one of the key adaptations that enable them to hunt and survive in their forested habitats.

a fisher climbing over a fallente=ree trunk. The fisher is facing the left. Its mouth is open exposing its teeth. it is covered in reddish brown fur.

The canines are the long, pointed teeth located on either side of the front incisors in a fisher’s mouth.

©Reimar/Shutterstock.com

Premolars

The 10 premolars are the teeth located behind the canines in a fisher’s mouth. They are characterized by their flattened, jagged surfaces. The premolars are well-suited for cutting and crushing food. Fishers use their premolars to break apart the flesh and bones of their prey and to slice through tough vegetation.

Molars

The 12 molars are the largest teeth. They are located at the back of a fisher’s mouth. They have broad, flattened surfaces that are well-suited for crushing and grinding food into small particles. Fishers use their molars to break down the tough, fibrous parts of their prey, such as bones, cartilage, and connective tissue, as well as to grind up plant material.

How do Fisher Cats Use Their Teeth?

Fishers use their teeth for capturing, killing, and consuming their prey. The fisher’s sharp, pointed canine teeth are used to grab and hold onto prey, while its strong jaw muscles enable it to exert a powerful bite. Once the fisher has caught its prey, its canine teeth are used to deliver a lethal bite to the neck or skull of the animal, killing it quickly. The fisher’s molars are adapted for crushing and grinding bones, which allows it to extract as much nutrition as possible from its prey. If threatened, the fisher will use its teeth to defend itself, biting its attacker.



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About the Author

Kathryn Koehler is a writer at A-Z-Animals where her focus is on unusual animals, places, and events. Kat has over 20 years of experience as a professional writer and educator. She holds a master's degree from Vanderbilt University. When she is not writing for A-Z-Animals, Kat enjoys puttering in her garden, baking deliciously healthful treats for her family, and playing with her two rescue mutts, Popcorn and Scooter. She resides in Tennessee.

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