European Pine Marten

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Marten

A mustelid native to and common in Northern Europe is the European pine marten (Martes martes), also known as the pine marten or the European marten.

On the IUCN Red List, it is recognized as Least Concern. It is also generally known as Baum marten or sweet marten.

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Habitat and distribution

The species was widespread in Great Britain only in northwestern Scotland for several years.

A 2012 study found that martens spread from their stronghold in the Scottish Highlands, north into Sutherland and Caithness, and southeast from the Great Glen into Moray, Aberdeenshire, Perthshire, Tayside, and Stirlingshire, with some in the Central Belt, on the peninsulas of Kintyre and Cowal, and on Skye Compared with that in the core marten range, expansion in the Galloway Forest has been minimal.

In the early 1980s, Martens was reintroduced into the Glen Trool Forest, and there was only minimal spread from there. This may be due to continuing harassment and trapping by local hunters.

Pine martens are exceedingly rare in England and have long been considered likely to be extinct. A scat discovered in June 2010 at Kidland Forest in Northumberland can indicate either a Scottish recolonization or a relict population that has previously escaped notice.

There have been several recorded sightings of pine martens in Cumbria, but it was not until 2011 that definitive evidence was discovered, some scat that was DNA-tested. The first documented sighting of pine in July 2015.

In Wales, there is a small pine marten population. The scat found in Cwm Rheidol forest in 2007 was reported to be from a pine marten by DNA testing. A male was located near Newtown, Powys, in 2012 as roadkill.

This was the first confirmation of the species, living or dead, since 1971 in Wales. Conservation of these mammals in the mid-Wales region has been initiated by the Vincent Wildlife Trust (VWT).

During autumn 2015, under license from Scottish Natural Heritage, 20 pine martens were collected in Scotland, in areas where a stable pine marten population occurs. In an area in mid-Wales, these animals were translocated and released.

All of the martens have been issued with radio collars and are monitored every day to monitor their movements and to find out where territories have been set up.

In the autumn of 2016, in the hope of establishing a self-sustaining population, the VWT intended to catch and release another 20 pine martens.

In Ireland, the marten is still very rare, but the population is recovering and spreading; its traditional strongholds are in the west and south, especially in Burren and Killarney National Park, but in recent years the population in the Midlands has increased significantly.

A study published in 2015 by academics at Queens University Belfast using cameras and citizen scientists

Characteristics

A coat of dark brown fur protects the European pine marten. This is dense over the winter, and over the summer it thins out.

The pads of their feet would also be coated in fur during the winter. The tail is bushy and long. A “bib” of white to creamy orange fur is situated under the collar. The fur has a greyish hue on its belly.

An average European pine marten ranges between 45 and 58 cm (17 to 22 in with a tail length of between 16 and 28 cm (6.3 and 11 cm). They can vary greatly in size due to a wide geographical range.

Males are frequently 10-30 per cent larger than women. On average, they weigh between 0.9 and kg (2-4.5lbs).

Diet

The pine martens are omnivore. The bulk of their diet consists of small mammals and birds that are supplemented by vegetables, insects, carrots, eggs, and fungi. Throughout autumn, berries become a big part of their diet.

Reproduction

Between July and August, breeding takes place. This species experiences delayed implantation where for about seven months, the fertilized egg does not begin to mature, which means that from February to March this happens.

They are only receptive to mating for a total of 1-4 days during this period, up to four times during that period.

After implantation, the young person needs 30 to 35 days of gestation to develop and be born. In each litter, an average of three kits are born, but up to 5 kits are possible. Due to the mother pine marten having only four teats, only four will suckle at a time. The kits are usually blind, deaf and powerless at birth.

During their 34th-38th days of life, they get their first glimpse of the planet. The kits will take their first bites of solid food between their 36 and 45th days on Earth.

At six weeks old, they stop drinking their mother’s milk. They are able to move out on their own by six months of age, but some stay in their parents’ territories until spring.

Many who do not leave may be pushed out during the winter when the female encounters a “false heat”. This is a period when hormone levels rise, and people in their territory are less tolerant of other animals.

Sexual development happens about the age of 14 months.

Behaviour

With much of its behaviour occurring between dawn and dusk, this species is crepuscular( They appear or are active in the twilight). They take refuge in a hollow log, a rock crevice, or an abandoned nest during the day.

Although they are adept at running through the forest, much of their hunting takes place on the field. They are solitary animals who only come together during mating season.

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