The Yellow-throated marten is the largest marten in the old world, an Asian marten species, with a tail of more than half its length.
Its fur is vividly coloured and consists of a special mix of black white, golden-yellow and brown. The colour on the hindquarters becomes browner. The flanks and the belly have a vivid yellowish colour.
The chest and lower area of the throat are lighter, orange-golden than the back and abdomen. The chin and lower lips are white. The tail has a glossy, pure black colour, while the tip has a soft purple wash.
The tip of the tail is greyish brown. Yellow-throated martens are largely strong, muscular and versatile animals with an elongated thorax, a short pointed head and a long neck.
Their ears are broad and wide, but they are small with rounded tips. The soles of the legs are coated with thick, flexible hair, while the digital and foot pads are bare and the paws are weakly furred.
Table of Contents
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Carnivora
- Family: Mustelidae
- Genus: Martes
- Species: Martes flavigula
Also known as the kharza, the yellow-throated marten is the largest marten in the Old World, with more than half of its length being the tail.
Its fur is brightly coloured, consisting of a peculiar mix of black, white, golden-yellow and brown. It is an omnivore, whose food sources range from fruit and nectar to small deer.
Due to its strong construction, its vivid colouration and unpleasant odour, the yellow-throated marten is a fearless animal with few natural predators. It displays no fear of dogs or humans and is easily tamed.
While similar in many respects to the smaller beech marten, its distinctive colour and the arrangement of its baculum distinguish it sharply from other martens, as indicated by its geographical distribution and its atypical colouration, it is possibly the oldest type of marten, probably occurring during the Pliocene.
Due to its wide distribution, apparently reasonably stable population, occurrence in a number of protected areas, and lack of major threats, it is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.
In his History of Quadrupeds (1781), Thomas Pennant gave the first written account of the yellow-throated marten in the Western World, in which he called it the White-cheeked Weasel.
With the name Mustela flavigula, Pieter Boddaert featured it in his Elenchus Animalium. The presence of the yellow-throated marten was considered doubtful by many zoologists for a long time after the publication of the Elenchus until Thomas Hardwicke introduced a skin to the Museum of the East India Company in 1824.
Yellow-throated martens are diurnal hunters, who typically hunt in pairs, but can also hunt in packs of three or more.
These animals have large, though not permanent home-ranges. They actively patrol their territories, having been known to cover more than 10 to 20 km in a single day and night.
They hunt mostly on the field but can skip the trees professionally, being able to make leaps up to 8 to 9 meters in the gap between the branches.
Yellow-throated martens are fearless animals; they have only a few natural predators due to their strong build-up, bright colour and unpleasant scent. They are not afraid of humans or dogs and are easy to tame.
The yellow-throated marten is a large, sturdy, muscular and flexible animal with an elongated thorax, a short pointed head, a long neck and a very long tail about 2/3 longer than its body.
The tail is not as bushy as the tail of other martens and therefore looks longer than it really is. The limbs are relatively short and heavy, with long legs. The ears are large and wide but short with rounded tips.
The soles of the legs are coated with dense, flexible fur, while the digital and the footpads are bare, and the paws are weakly peeled. The skull looks like the beech marten, but it is much larger.
It is larger than other Old World martens; males are 500–719 mm (19.7–28.3 in body length, while females are 500–620 mm (20–24 in).
Males weigh 2.5–5.7 kg (5.5–12.6 lb) while females weigh about 1.6–3.8 kg (3.5–8.4 lb). Anal glands have two peculiar protuberances that can be used to secrete a strong fragrant liquid for protective purposes.
The yellow-throated marten has a comparatively short fur that lacks the fluffiness of the pine marten, sand and beech marten. The winter fur varies from that of the other martens by its relative shortness, its harshness and its lustre.
Nor is it as thick, fuzzy and compact as other martens. The hair on the tail is short and of a similar length over the entire tail. The summer fur is shorter, lighter, less compact and lustrous.
The colour of the pelage is peculiar among the martens, vivid and varied. The top of the head is blackish-brown with glossy brown highlights, while the cheeks are slightly reddish with a combination of white hair tips.
The back of the ears is black, while the inside of the ears is covered with yellowish-grey. The fur is a glossy brownish-yellow colour with a golden tone from the occiput on the back surface.
The colour on the back quarters becomes browner. The flanks and the belly have a vivid yellowish colour. The chest and lower part of the throat are lighter, orange-golden than the back and abdomen.
The chin and lower lips are white. The forelegs of the forelegs and the forelegs of the forelegs are pure black, while the upper limbs are of the same colour as the forelegs of the back.
The tail has a glossy, pure black colour, while the tip has a soft purple wash. The tip of the tail is greyish brown. The contrasting markings of the head and neck are probably the marks of identification.
Ecology and Behavior
The yellow-throated marten holds wide, but not permanent home-ranges.
It regularly patrols its territory, having been known to cover more than 10 to 20 km in a single day and night.
It hunts mostly on the ground but can climb the trees proficiently, being able to make leaps up to 8 to 9 meters in the distance between the branches. After the snowfall of March, the yellow-throated marten limits its activity to treetops.
At these times, males battle each other to gain access to females. Litters normally consist of two or three kits and sometimes four kits.
The yellow-throated marten is a diurnal hunter, who typically hunts in pairs, but can also hunt in packs of three or more.
It has preyed on rodents, mice, hares, snakes, lizards, eggs and ground-nesting birds such as pheasants and Francolins. It is confirmed that cats and poultry have been killed.
It has been established that it feeds on human bodies and is once thought to be capable of attacking an unarmed man in groups of 3 to 4. The yellow-throated marten can prey on small ungulates.
In the Himalayas and Burma, it is recorded that it frequently kills muntjac fawns, while in Ussuriland the basis of its diet consists of musk deer, especially in winter.
Young people of larger ungulated species can also be hunted but within a weight range of about 10 to 12 kg. In winter, the yellow-throated marten hunts musk deer by driving it to the ice.
Two or three yellow-throated martens will eat a musk deer carcass within 2 to 3 days. Other ungulated species preyed on yellow-throated martens include young wapiti, spotted deer, roe deer and goral.
Wild boar piglets are also sometimes used. They may be preyed on panda cubs and on smaller marten species, such as sands.
In places where they are sympathetic with tigers, the yellow-throated marten may be caught and fed to kill them.