Pine Marten

Last updated: September 10, 2021
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff

A pine marten can jump from tree to tree similar to a squirrel.



Pine Marten Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Mammalia
Order
Carnivora
Family
Mustelidae
Genus
Martes

Pine Marten Conservation Status

Pine Marten Locations

Pine Marten Locations

Pine Marten Facts

Prey
Birds, insects, bird eggs, fruit, voles
Name Of Young
Kit
Group Behavior
  • Solitary
Fun Fact
A pine marten can jump from tree to tree similar to a squirrel.
Estimated Population Size
Unknown
Biggest Threat
Trapping
Most Distinctive Feature
Splash of cream fur on its neck
Other Name(s)
European marten
Gestation Period
28 days (After delayed implantation)
Litter Size
2-5
Habitat
Pine forests, scrubs, rocky hills
Predators
Red foxes, eagles, owls, humans
Diet
Omnivore
Type
Mammal
Common Name
Pine marten
Number Of Species
8
Location
Eurasia

Pine Marten Physical Characteristics

Colour
  • Brown
  • Cream
Skin Type
Fur
Lifespan
8-10 years
Weight
1lbs - 3lbs
Length
1.5ft - 2.2 ft
Age of Sexual Maturity
2-3 years old
Age of Weaning
40 days

Pine Marten Images

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“A pine marten can jump a distance of 6 feet between trees”

A pine marten is a long, sleek mammal similar in appearance to a weasel. Their habitats are pine trees, scrublands, and rocky hills. Though these small mammals have adorable faces, their sharp claws and teeth can be dangerous. The diet of this animal includes insects, voles, birds, bird eggs, and fruit. They are fast-moving, agile animals both on the ground and in trees.

5 Incredible Pine Marten Facts

  • These mammals have a shy personality and are rarely seen by people
  • Their place of origin is Eurasia
  • A baby is called a kit
  • This mammal has a large territory and can wander up to 5 miles per night
  • Stolen bird eggs are a part of this animal’s diet

Pine Marten Scientific Name

Martes martes is the scientific name of a pine marten. Martes is a Latin word referring to the genus of this mammal. It is sometimes called the European pine marten.

The classification of the pine marten:

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
Genus: Martes

There are 8 species including:

  • American marten
  • Yellow-throated marten
  • Beech marten
  • Nilgiri marten
  • European pine marten
  • Japanese marten
  • Fisher
  • Sable

Pine Marten Appearance & Behavior

The fur of a pine marten is dark brown with cream or white on its neck and chest. They have pointed ears, small dark eyes, and dark whiskers. These animals have a long, bushy tail that’s very similar to the tail of a squirrel. An adult can grow to 1.5 to 2.2 feet long. They weigh from 1 to 3 pounds. A pine marten measuring 1.5 feet long is equal in size to the average housecat. A 3-pound pine marten is equal in weight to half of a brick. Pine martens are closely related to weasels. But weasels only grow to about 10 inches in length (body and tail). The yellow-throated marten is the largest species growing to a length of 27 inches.

This small animal has very sharp claws and teeth. It uses its claws to grasp the bark of trees and jump from branch to branch. Its tail helps it to stay balanced while it’s sitting on tree branches way up in the treetops. These creatures are known to be incredibly territorial. Their territory can sometimes extend over 3 miles. They are careful to mark the boundaries of their territory with feces. Yuck! If one pine marten enters the territory of another, there’s likely to be a fight. Fights between these animals can be dangerous and vicious because they can injure one another with their teeth and claws. These animals don’t want any intruders in their space!

They also use their teeth and claws to defend themselves against predators. Their running and jumping speed can help them to escape an attack from an owl or fox as well. Young European martens are more vulnerable to predators than fully grown adults.

This animal has a shy personality (except when pursuing prey) and is solitary. They are nocturnal as well so a person would have to be patient in order to spot one of these clever creatures.

Pine Marten drinking from a lake in the forest.
Pine Marten drinking from a lake in the forest.

Pine Marten vs Mink

If you saw a pine marten and a mink walk by, you may believe they are the same type of animal. They both have a coat of dark brown fur. Plus, they both have long, slender bodies, small noses, and pointed ears. Each one of these creatures is a good swimmer and nocturnal. Furthermore, birds and small rodents like voles are included in their diet. Spotting the differences between this pair means taking a closer look at the specific features of each one.

One thing to note is a pine marten has long legs while a mink has short ones. Also, the tail of a mink is thinner than the pine marten’s bushy, thick tail. Notice that a mink has a dab of white fur under its chin and a pine marten has white fur on its neck and down its chest.

Pine Marten Habitat

The origin place of the pine marten is Eurasia. These mammals are found in areas all over Europe as well as in Asia. They live in Italy, Finland, France, Iran, Germany, Sweden, and Russia among other countries. They thrive in temperate to cold climates. Their thick fur keeps them warm during the winter season, so they don’t have to hibernate. In especially cold temperatures, they may spend time underground in a den to stay warm.

These animals get their name from their pine forest habitat. Some of them live in scrublands or on rocky hillsides. Sometimes this small mammal will make a home in a crevice between rocks. Its slim, flexible body allows it to slip into tight areas.

They live part of the time in trees and part of the time on the ground. They make their nests in the hollows of trees, in dens or in abandoned squirrel nests called dreys. At dusk when it’s time to eat, these animals come down from the trees to look for food.

These animals don’t migrate. However, they do move around within their territory sometimes having three or four dens to hide or sleep in. They like to wander looking for food and ensuring their territory is still marked.

Pine Marten Predators and Threats

They are omnivores. Though they spend a lot of time in trees they hunt for prey on ground level.

What eats pine martens?

Owls are predators of pine martens along with red foxes and eagles. Owls and foxes are both nocturnal, so they are out hunting at the same time European martens are active. Eagles share the same treetop habitat as this small mammal, so they are able to find them fairly easily.

Humans are also predators of pine martens. Some people set traps and hunt these mammals for their fur. There are some farmers that kill them as pests because pine martens can attack chickens, ducks, and other small barnyard animals. Or, it may eat poisonous bait put out to kill another type of pest on a farm or ranch.

The conservation status of pine martens is Least Concern with a stable population.

What do pine martens eat?

Omnivorous pine martens have a diet of insects, fruit, voles, small rabbits, birds, and bird eggs. They sometimes steal eggs out of a bird’s nest. These creatures eat insects found on tree bark. Plus, they are fast enough to capture voles and other small rodents living in their habitat. They have been known to eat fruit because they enjoy the sweet, sugary taste.

Pine Marten Reproduction, Babies, and Life Cycle

The mating season of this mammal happens in July and August. Males call out for females with a high-pitched sound similar to the howl of a domesticated cat. Males and females climb down from the trees to breed. After mating, the fertilized egg inside the female doesn’t travel and implant in her uterus until seven months later. So, the gestation period of this mammal is around one month, and the babies are born in the springtime. This is called delayed implantation. It happens so pine martens, and other members of the Mustelidae family, can have their litter when the weather is warmer in the spring.

Weasels experience delayed implantation as well. Their breeding season happens in mid-summer, but because of delayed implantation, the female doesn’t give birth until the following spring.

A baby is called a kit. A female gives live birth to a litter of 3 to 5 kits. Each baby weighs around 1 ounce. They are born blind with closed ears. Their eyes and ears open at around 35 days old. After nursing for around the first month of life, the kits begin to eat solid food at around 40 days old. The male pine marten doesn’t help in the care of the kits. The kits can live independently at 12 weeks old.

These wild mammals live 8 to 10 years. The record for the oldest wild pine marten is 14.5 years old.

Pine Marten Population

The population of this animal is unknown. According to the IUCN Redlist their conservation status is Least Concern with a stable population.

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Pine Marten FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What is a pine marten?

It is a small furry mammal with a long body, pointed ears and a bushy tail. They have a dark brown coat with a splash of white on their neck and chest. These animals have a diet of insects, voles, fruit, birds, and birds’ eggs. Their area of origin is Eurasia.

This animal is similar in appearance to a weasel or even a ferret. Though some people try to keep this animal as a pet, it is not meant to live in a home. This is a wild animal that would not be happy living as a pet. Plus, they can be dangerous due to their teeth and claws. Keeping an exotic pet like this is illegal in some places.

Are pine martens carnivores, omnivores, or herbivores?

Their diet is omnivorous.

Are pine martens aggressive?

No. They have a shy personality and like to remain hidden from humans. If they do become aggressive it’s in the midst of trying to capture prey or defend themselves against a predator.

Where does a pine marten live?

Its habitat can be a pine forest, rocky hillside, or scrubland.

Are pine martens protected?

Yes. In the United Kingdom the pine marten is protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Do pine martens eat rats?

Yes. They eat rats along with many other types of rodents. They are quick and can capture these rodents without a problem.

What does a pine marten look like?

It looks a lot like a weasel or a fisher.

How big is a pine marten?

They are 1.5 – 2.2 feet long and weigh from 1 to 3 pounds as adults.

What is pine marten fur used for?

Unfortunately, pine marten fur is used to make coats, hats, and stoles (wraps).

Sources
  1. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_marten
  2. Forest Holidays, Available here: https://www.forestholidays.co.uk/locations/scotland/wildlife/pine-martens/facts/
  3. Woodland Trust, Available here: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blog/2018/06/pine-marten-facts/
  4. Nature Scot, Available here: https://www.nature.scot/plants-animals-and-fungi/mammals/land-mammals/pine-marten
  5. Twycross Zoo, Available here: https://twycrosszoo.org/animals/yellow-throated-marten/
  6. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mink
  7. Welsh Mountain Zoo, Available here: https://www.welshmountainzoo.org/animals/european-pine-marten

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