European Pine MartenScientific Name Martes martes              

Conservation Status Least Concern

Appearance

The European pine marten is covered with a coat of dark brown fur. This is thick over winter and thins out over the summer. Over winter the pads of their feet will also be covered in fur. The tail is long and bushy. Under the throat is a “bib” of white to creamy orange fur. On the belly the fur has a greyish tint.

An average European pine marten measures between 45 and 58cm (17 to 22in) with the tail adding between 16 and 28cm (6.3 and 11cm) to their length. Due to a large geographical range they can vary greatly in size. Males are often 10-30% larger than females. They weigh between 0.9 and 2kg (2-4.5lbs) on average.

Lifespan                                                                                  

European pine martens may live for up to 18 years in captivity but more often live for 8-10 years in the wild.

Diet

This species is an omnivore. The majority of their diet consists of small mammals and birds which is supplemented with fruits, insects, carrion, eggs and fungi. Berries become a large part of their diet throughout autumn.

Habitat

European pine martens inhabit a large area across most of mainland Europe and into the West of Asia including Russia. In the United Kingdom they are mostly restricted to Scotland with some small European Pine Martenpopulations present in England.

Well suited to a life amongst the trees European pine martens mostly live in forests. They will also venture in to the grasslands adjacent to these areas. Their territory is marked by depositing their feces around the perimeter. The size of their territory is decided by the amount of available food in these areas. They will make a den in hollow trees or fallen root masses most often with shrub covered cliffs also used on occasion.

Reproduction

Breeding takes place between July and August. This species experiences delayed implantation where the fertilized egg does not begin to develop for about seven months meaning this occurs from February to March. During this period they are only receptive to mating for a period for 1-4 days up to four times over this period.

Following implantation it takes 30 to 35 days gestation for the young to develop and be born.

An average three kits are born in litter though up to 5 is possible. Only four will can suckle at a time due to the mum only having four teats. At birth kits are blind, deaf and helpless.

They get their first view of the world during their 34th-38th day of life. Between their 36 and 45th day on earth the kits will take their first bites of solid food. They stop drinking milk from their mother at six weeks old. By 6 months old they are ready to strike it out on their own but some remain in their parents territory till the spring.

Those who do not leave may be forced out over the winter when the female experiences a “false heat.” This is a time where hormonal levels increase and individuals are less tolerant of other animals in their European Pine Martenterritory.

Sexually maturity occurs around 14 months of age.

Behavior

European pine martens are preyed upon by red foxes and golden eagles. Humans persecute this species as a result of habitat loss, predator control intended for other species and farming for their fur.

This species is crepuscular with most of their activity occurring between dawn and dusk. During the day they will take shelter in a hollow tree, rock crevice or abandoned nest. Most of their hunting takes place on the ground though they are adept at running through the trees.

They are a solitary species only coming together through the breeding season.

Quick facts

This species is also known as the pineten, sweet marten or baum marten.

Photo Credits:

Top
By Dani Kropivnik [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Map
By Jürgen at nl.wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], from Wikimedia Commons\

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By Huhu Uet (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons