Facts about European pine marten

19 facts about European pine marten

Martes martes

This small, predatory mammal is closely associated with the forest environment. It tries to avoid contact with humans and always be near some shelter. It eagerly inhabits hollows of birds and squirrels, crevices, and clefts. Commonly found in continental Europe and Asia Minor, it also inhabits the islands of the Mediterranean basin. It can be found in the Balearic Islands, Corsica, Sardinia, Elba and Sicily.
The marten is a predatory mammal of the Mustelidae family.
So far, eight subspecies of the forest marten have been distinguished. The Mustelidae family, in turn, includes about 60 species of animals.
It lives throughout most of Europe and Asia Minor.
In Britain, it is found in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. It inhabits all of continental Europe except southern Spain and Portugal. Common in Scandinavia, western Russia, Turkey, Georgia, and northern Iraq.
They live in dense forests where they occupy hollows, burrows and clefts.
Usually, an individual has several shelters within its territory. When ambient temperatures are lower in winter, martens seek shelter underground.
This medium-sized mammal is covered with brown fur.
The color can range from light to dark brown. In summer the fur is coarse and short, while in winter, it is softer and longer. The throat is cream or light yellow.
Males are slightly larger than females.
The body length of a european marten averages 53 cm (21 in) and the tail length is 25 cm (10 in). Adult martens can weigh between 1.5 and 1.7 kg (3,3 to 3,7 in).
In winter, they grow fur on their paws, similar to that of arctic foxes.
The winter fur begins to grow in August and molts in the spring. Young animals start to grow fur during the first winter.
They are omnivores.
Their diet is based on small mammals, birds, snakes, amphibians, insects, snails and fruits. In season, wild berries can make up as much as 30% of their diet. They may also feed on carrion.
They live a solitary life unless they raise offspring.
They are not monogamous and bond in pairs for only one mating season. If a male's territory overlaps with a female's, the male may defend her territory as well. The social behavior of martens intensifies in winter when they mark their territory more frequently and when intersexual aggression decreases. Such behavior was thought to indicate the start of the mating season, but it is now known that mating does not occur until summer.
Martens have a perfectly developed sense of sight, smell and hearing.
They are excellent climbers.
Martens are anatomically adapted to move efficiently in trees. They have strong forelegs, a long tail that stabilizes the body, and strong claws for grip.