What WAS that creature in my backyard?

NOT a rat, a possum, or raccoon.

I wrote this on my Facebook page last Saturday morning after The Daughter and I saw something run across the back of our Pine Hills yard, under the raised shed, then towards the front of the house, before it evidently went into the neighbor’s property, heading south towards Western Avenue. “Albany, NY: So what was that stocky, gray beaver-like animal that ran out of my backyard this morning? Tail more like a cat, and it ran reasonably fast for its size.”

I really didn’t know, and I wanted to. The Daughter thought was a beaver, and it was similar, but I’ve seen beavers, and it did not look quite right, especially the tail.

“Woodchuck? We’ve had one in the backyard every summer for years. Pretty harmless, just eats the grass!” Well, maybe; I hear that they can be fast.

“Opposum? Did it look like a gigantic rat?” Nah, I’ve seen possums before. The tail’s all wrong, among other things.

“If you were down here in the city, I’d say it was a rat.” Definitely not. Saw a rat in the French Quarter of New Orleans way too close for my comfort.

“I’d guess opossum, too, but other possibilities are muskrat and woodchuck. Here are some native mammals; remember if it was early morning the color could be pretty deceptive.” Perhaps, but don’t think it was a muskrat either.

Definitely not a raccoon. Lacked the facial markings.

“Fisher cat? I think they’re in the Pine Bush…” “Fishers are in the pine bush, so one may have moved into the city. If neighborhood cats and squirrels have gone missing, this may be your critter, Roger!” “They are vicious.”

And THAT seemed to be the most likely. A fisher, or fisher cat, though it is NOT a feline: It is “a large, dark, long-haired member of the weasel family. Their stature is relatively low to the ground, with short legs, small ears, and a well-furred tail. The color of their fur varies from dark brown to nearly black.”

So, if I were a betting man, I say 70% chance of fisher, 20% chance of woodchuck, and 10% of something else. And if it WAS a fisher, I’m glad our cats are of the indoor denomination.

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