European Pine Marten


European Pine Marten
European Pine Marten
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae
Genus: Martes
Species: M. martes
Binomial name
Martes martes
(Linnaeus, 1758)
European Pine Marten range
(green - native, red - introduced)

The European Pine Marten (Martes martes), known most commonly as the pine marten in Anglophone Europe, and less commonly also known as Pineten, baum marten, or sweet marten, is an animal native to Northern Europe belonging to the mustelid family, which also includes mink, otter, badger, wolverine and weasel. It is about the size of a domestic cat. Its body is up to 53 cm in length (21 inches), and its bushy tail can be 25 cm (10 inches). Males are slightly larger than females; on average a marten weighs around 1.5 kg (3.5 lb). Their fur is usually light to dark brown and grows longer and silkier during the winter months. They have a cream to yellow coloured "bib" marking on their throats.

Contents

Habitat

Skull

Their habitats are usually well-wooded areas. European Pine Martens usually make their own dens in hollow trees or scrub-covered fields. Martens are the only mustelids with semi-retractable claws. This enables them to lead more arboreal lifestyles, such as climbing or running on tree branches, although they are also relatively quick runners on the ground. They are mainly active at night and dusk. They have small rounded, highly sensitive ears and sharp teeth for eating small mammals, birds, insects, frogs, and carrion. They have also been known to eat berries, bird's eggs, meat, nuts and honey. European Pine Martens are territorial animals that mark their range by depositing faeces (called 'scats') in prominent locations.

Martens have been known to chew rubber and soft plastic parts (e.g. windscreen wipers, garden hoses, etc.), often those of parked cars, ostensibly to sharpen/clean their teeth, though the exact drive for this behaviour is not known, and they do not actually ingest the rubber; damage to brake cables is a particular hazard. In rural areas it is not uncommon for wire fencing (chicken wire) to be placed on the ground under parked cars (Martens avoid stepping on it) or dog musk or other natural repellents to be sprayed under cars.[citation needed]

Threats to the species

Although they are preyed upon occasionally by Golden Eagles and by red foxes, humans are the largest threat to Pine Martens. Persecution (illegal poisoning and shooting) by gamekeepers, and loss of habitat leading to fragmentation, and human disturbance, have caused a considerable decline in the Pine Marten population. They are also prized for their very fine fur in some areas. In the United Kingdom, European Pine Martens and their dens are offered full protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) and the Environmental Protection Act.[1]

In Great Britain, the species is only at all common in northwestern Scotland, where some individuals have lost their fear of man and come to take food provided for them, particularly enjoying jam and peanut butter.[2] In England, Pine Martens are extremely rare, and long considered probably extinct. A scat found at Kidland Forest in Northumberland in June 2010 may represent either a recolonisation from Scotland, or a relict population that has escaped notice previously.[3]

As predator

Recently (December, 2007) the European Pine Marten was credited with reducing the population of the invasive Grey Squirrel in the UK. Where the range of the expanding European Pine Marten population meets that of the Grey Squirrel, the population of the squirrels quickly retreats. It is theorised that because the Grey Squirrel spends more time on the ground than the Red Squirrel, they are far more likely to come in contact with this predator.[4]

Lifespan

The European Pine Marten has lived to 18 years in captivity, but in the wild a lifespan of eight to ten years is more typical. They reach sexual maturity at two or three years of age. The young are usually born in March or April after a 7 month-long gestation period in litters of one to five. Young European Pine Martens weigh around 30 grams at birth. The young begin to emerge out of their dens by the middle of June and are fully independent around six months after their birth.

References

  1. ^ ARKive Pine Marten
  2. ^ ThePineMatensite
  3. ^ Northumberland Wildlife Trust Found at last! pine marten rediscovered in Northumberland 1 July 2010.
  4. ^ Watson, Jeremy (30 December 2007) "Tufty's saviour to the rescue". Scotland on Sunday. Edinburgh.

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Look at other dictionaries:

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