Martens are a slender, often arboreal species that mainly populate forested areas in the northern hemisphere. They vary in size and shape, yet all have defining features that link them; such as semi retractable claws (which is unique within the mustelid family), long tails that often match their body length, and adaptations to the joints in their wrists and legs to help them climb down trees headfirst without issue.

Their behaviour tends to lean towards an arboreal lifestyle. It can however, be misunderstood that they only live within trees and do all their feeding in this environment—which is not the case, as martens are known to hunt and forage both on land and within trees. Martens are omnivores, and have varied eating habits that change as the seasons do—having a more berry and fruit orientated diet in the summer months, and a more meat filled diet in the winter months.

Martens are a mostly solitary species, but can be seen in small family groups. They do seem to tolerate each other’s company if food sources are particularly rich in some areas.

How the common name “pine marten” can cause confusion

Both the American marten and European pine marten are often simply called “pine martens”. This can lead to confusion since both mustelids are actually their own species, but tend to be mixed up in context due to this shared common name. The word “pine” can also be misleading, given neither of these semi-arboreal species are partial to pine trees. Similarly, the beech marten does not have a preference for beech trees.

(1) American Marten (Martes americana)

Photo by Cody Connor

The American marten or American pine marten is a North American member of the family. The name “pine marten” is derived from the common but distinct Eurasian species of Martes. It differs from the fisher in that it is smaller in size and lighter in colour.

– Source from Wikipedia. The information above needs to be edited with our own words.




Size: 36–45 cm / 13–17 in (males)
Tail length: 13.5–16 cm / 5.4–6.4 in (males)
Weight: 0.5–1.4 kg / 1.1–3.1 lb (males)
Lifespan: Differs by region, about 3 years.
Range: Northern North America, Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada.
Conservation status: Least concern
Recognised subspecies(1)

  1. M. a. abieticola
  2. M. a. albeitinoides
  3. M. a. actuosa
  4. M. a. americana
  5. M. a. atrata
  6. M. a. caurina – Considered its own species by some authorities.
  7. M. a. humboldtensis
  8. M. a. kenaiensis
  9. M. a. nesophila
  10. M. a. origensis
  11. M. a. sierrae
  12. M. a. vancourverensis
  13. M. a. vulpina

  1. Wilson, Don E. & Reeder, DeeAnn M. (Editors) 2005. Martes americana in Mammal Species of the World. – A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference.

(2) Beech Marten (Martes foina)

Photo by Zefram

The beech marten, also known as the stone marten, house marten or white breasted marten, is native to much of Europe and Central Asia, though it has established a feral population in North America.

The beech marten is present in Wisconsin, particularly near the urban centres surrounding Milwaukee. It is also present in several wooded, upland areas in the Kettle Moraine State Forest, and in nearby woodlands of Walworth, Racine, Waukesha and probably Jefferson Counties. North American beech martens are likely descended from feral animals that escaped a private fur farm in Burlington during the 1940s. They have also been listed as being released or having escaped in 1972.

– Source from Wikipedia. The information above needs to be edited with our own words.





Behaviour and Habitat


Introduction to the United States


Damage to attics and automobiles


How to humanly marten-proof your property

Size: 43–59 cm / 17–23 in (males),  38–40 cm / 15–16 in (females)
Tail length: 25–32 cm /10–12.5 in (males), 23–27.5 cm / 9–11 in (females)
Weight: 1.7–2.1 kg / 4–4.5 lb (males), 1.1–1.5 kg / 2.5–3 lb (females)
Lifespan: 3 years. 10 years at most.
Range: Most of Europe and central Asia.
Conservation status: Least concern
Recognised subspecies(1)

  1. M. f. bosniaca
  2. M. f. bunites
  3. M. f. foina
  4. M. f. kozlovi
  5. M. f. intermedia
  6. M. f. mediterranea
  7. M. f. milleri
  8. M. f. nehringi
  9. M. f. rosanowi
  10. M. f. syriaca
  11. M. f. toufoeus

  1. Wilson, Don E. & Reeder, DeeAnn M. (Editors) 2005. Martes foina in Mammal Species of the World. – A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference.

(3) European Pine Marten (Martes martes)

Photo by SurreyJohn

The European pine marten is native to Northern Europe. Their fur is usually light to dark brown. They have a cream- to yellow-coloured “bib” marking on their throats.


Winter coat: Lighter and toffee-brown in colour, long, very dense and silky. The limbs, paws and underside remain dark, while the bib (throat patch) remains light yellow.


Being an omnivore means not being picky and eating whatever is available throughout the seasonal cycle, in addition to hunting prey. The menu consists of small rodents, lagomorphs, birds, carrion, eggs, fish, insects, amphibians, earthworms, mushrooms, and a surprisingly large amount of vegetable matter- during autumn fruit, nuts and berries can make up to 85 % of the diet! The European pine marten’s sweet tooth is well documented by trappers and photographers, who make use of bait in the form of raisins, honey, ficus or jam to lure the otherwise elusive animals out of their safe hiding places, and there have even been a report of a marten going crazy for cake in a ski-slope restaurant.(1) It’s fascinating to learn that carnivores can have unexpected quirks, and for people who wish to interact with martens it’s a neat trick to know. Feeding stations are becoming popular in this regard, though it’s recommended to be careful with processed and sugary foods and use healthier and more natural alternatives.

Role in the ecosystem

-Enemy and alley of squirrels:

-Equal rivalry:


False accusations

Size: 53 cm / 21 in (males)
Tail length: 25 cm /10 in (males)
Weight: 5–1.7 kg / 3.3–3.7 lb (males)
Lifespan: 3–4 years. 11 years at most.
Range: Most of Europe, Asia Minor, northern Iraq and Iran, the Caucasus, and in westernmost parts of Russia.
Conservation status: Least concern
Recognised subspecies(2)

  1. M. m. borealis
  2. M. m. latinorum
  3. M. m. lorenzi
  4. M. m. martes
  5. M. m. minoricensis
  6. M. m. notialis
  7. M. m. ruthena
  8. M. m. uralensis

  1. Birks, Johnny. Pine Martens. Whittet Books, 2017, p.160.
  2. Wilson, Don E. & Reeder, DeeAnn M. (Editors) 2005. Martes martes in Mammal Species of the World. – A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference.

(4) Japanese Marten (Martes melampus)

Photo by てん

Japanese martens are found along the valleys and boreal forests of much of Japan’s mainland.(1) In 1949, the species was introduced to the Sado and Hokkaido Islands to increase fur products.(2)  The Japanese marten’s closest relative is the sable, and they both share a similar habitat.(3)


The Japanese marten’s pelage varies in colour from dark brown to a dull yellow, with a cream or white-coloured throat.(4)(5)


The diet of Japanese martens varies by season. The species is known to consume fruits and berries from spring to autumn, insects in summer and autumn, and small mammals and birds all year round. They have been reported to eat seeds, rabbits, birds, bird eggs, invertebrates, centipedes, spiders, frogs, fish and crustaceans.(5)

Environmental benefits

Japanese martens play an important role in seed dispersal. Due to their consumption of fruit and seeds, and large home ranges, they are great dispersal vectors in northern climates of Japan where seed dispersal is low.(6)

Threats and conservation efforts

Due to the logging industry, Japanese martens are decreasing in numbers and struggling to rebound in some areas that were previously well-forested. Insularization occurs in some populations, causing changes in foraging and decreasing the genetic pool.(1) Excessive trapping for its fur and agricultural insecticides have also contributed to their decreasing numbers.(3)

In 1971, the Japanese marten was named a Natural Monument Species by the Japanese Agency of Cultural Affairs. Since this declaration, steps have been taken to conserve the species—regulations being put in place to protect female Japanese martens from trapping.(3) Japanese martens also have legal protection on the Tsushima Islands.(7)

Range map

Size: 47–54.5 cm / 18.5–21.5 in (males)
Tail length: 17–22.3 cm / 7–9 in (males)
Weight: 0.5–1.7 kg / 1.0–3.7 lb (males)
Lifespan: Not reported.
Range: Much of Japan’s mainland.
Conservation status: Least concern
Recognised subspecies(8)

  1. M. m. coreensis
  2. M. m. melampus
  3. M. m. tsuensis

  1. Buskirk, Steven (September 1992). “Conserving Circumboreal Forests for Martens and Fishers”
  2. Hosoda, Tetsuji, et al. “Genetic relationships within and between the Japanese marten Martes melampus and the sable M. zibellina, based on variation of mitochondrial DNA and nuclear ribosomal DNA.” Mammal Study 24.1 (1999): 25-33.
  3. Otsu, S. “Winter Food of Japanese Yellow Marten, Martes melampus melampus (Temminck et Schelegel), in Yamagata Prefecture.” Japanese Journal of Applied Entomology and Zoology 16 (1972): 75-78.
  4. Anderson, Elaine. “Quaternary evolution of the genus Martes (Carnivora, Mustelidae).” Acta Zoologica Fennica 130 (1970): 127-132.
  5. Tatara, Masaya, and Teruo Doi. “Comparative analyses on food habits of Japanese marten, Siberian weasel and leopard cat in the Tsushima islands, Japan.” Ecological research 9.1 (1994): 99-107.
  6. Otani, Tatsuya. “Seed dispersal by Japanese marten Martes melampus in the subalpine shrubland of northern Japan.” Ecological Research 17.1 (2002): 29-38.
  7. Schreiber, Arnd. Weasels, civets, mongooses, and their relatives: an action plan for the conservation of mustelids and viverrids. Vol. 3. IUCN, 1989.
  8. Wilson, Don E. & Reeder, DeeAnn M. (Editors) 2005. Martes melampus in Mammal Species of the World. – A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference.

(5) Nilgiri Marten (Martes gwatkinsii)

Photo by: Navaneeth Kishor

The Nilgiri marten is the only species found in southern India. They are endemic to the hills of the Nilgiris and parts of the Western Ghats of southern India.


The Nilgiri marten’s coat colour is deep brown from head to tail, with a yellow to orange throat patch. They look similar in size and appearance to yellow-throated martens, but are distinguished by their slightly larger size, flatter skull structure, and prominent frontal concavity.(1)(2)(3)(4)


Nilgiri martens are thought to be diunral, and only descend to the ground for hunting and foraging. They tend to live in moist tropical rainforests of southern India, and prefer altitudes of of 300 to 1200 meters. They are known to be social animals and even hunt in groups.(1)(2)(3)(4)(5)


The diet of the Nilgiri marten mostly consists of small mammals and birds, but they are also known to hunt reptiles and insects. They have been reported to consume crows, Indian giant squirrels, chevrotains, monitor lizards, and cicadas. In addition, they are known to consume honey, and as well as a variety of fruits.(2)(3)

Range map

Size: 55–65 cm / 22–26 in (males)
Tail length: 40–45 cm / 16–18 in (males)
Weight: 2.1 kg / 4.6 lb (males)
Lifespan: 14 years in captivity
Range: Travancore Kerala, Nilgiris, Kodagu north up to the Charmadi ghats, Karnataka.
Conservation status: Vulnerable

  1. Prater, S. H. The Book Of Indian Animals (2005 ed.). Mumbai: Bombay Natural History Society, Oxford University Press.
  2. Gokula, V., and N. K. Ramachandran. “A record of the Nilgiri marten (Martes gwatkinsi Horsfield) in Upper Bhavani.” JOURNAL-BOMBAY NATURAL HISTORY SOCIETY 93 (1996): 82-82.
  3. 2012. “Nilgiri Marten” (On-line). The Animal Accessed August 17, 2012 at
  4. Kumara, H. N., and M. E. W. A. Singh. “Small carnivores of Karnataka: distribution and sight records.” Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 104.2 (2007): 155-162.
  5. Hutton, A. F. (1948). “Feeding habits of the Nilgiri marten (Charronia gwatkinsii Horsfield)”Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 48 (2): 355–356.

(6) Pacific Marten (Martes caurina)

Photo by Tim Gage

Pacific martens are a rare and geographically isolated species, found in complex montane forests with seasonal snow cover in western North America.(1) Coastal subspecies populations in Oregon and California are referred to as Humboldt martens (Martes caurina humboldtensis). The Pacific marten is very similar to the American marten, but some researchers believe they are their own species.(2)(3) Pacific martens along the coast were thought to be extinct some 50 years ago, until one was rediscovered in the Six Rivers National Forest in northern California in 1996.(4) Since their rediscovery, little is known about their current population, habitat or range.


The similarities with the American marten are many and so striking that even the most detail-oriented of us have trouble telling them apart. A close comparison of the skulls reveals that the pacific marten has a broader and flatter head overall; which is the most noticeable in the zygomatic arches (cheek bones).(5)


According to the Alaska Department of Wildlife Fish and Game, Pacific martens in Alaska consume voles, salmon, berries, birds, vegetation and dead deer.(6)

A species near extinction

Like many threatened mustelids, habitat loss, trapping or vehicular fatalities have contributed to the decline of the coastal Pacific marten’s numbers. Researchers predict that unless protective measures are put into place, the Pacific marten may truly be extinct in the next 30 years.(7) In the United States, the Pacific marten is currently being considered for endangered species status under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. However, in order for them to be declared endangered, more information regarding their population size, density, or viability of remnant marten populations are needed.

From our experience, information about the Pacific marten is at times confusing, since some researchers are not clear whether they’re referring to the Pacific marten, or more specifically Humboldt marten in their articles.

Range map

Size: 48–65 cm / 19–25 in (males)
Weight: Up to 1.8 kg / 4 lb (males)
Lifespan: Data deficient
Range: Western United States, coastal islands of Vancouver, Queen Charlotte, Admiralty, and Kuiu.
Conservation status: Data deficient (Pacific marten), Critically imperiled (Humboldt marten)

  1. Zielinski, William J. “The forest carnivores: fisher and marten.” Science synthesis to promote socioecological resilience in the Sierra Nevada and southern Cascade Range (JW Long, L. N. Quinn-Davidson, and CN Skinner, eds.). US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, Albany, California (2013): 1-40.
  2. Clark, Tim W., et al. “Martes americana.” Mammalian species 289 (1987): 1-8.
  3. Merriam, C. Hart. “Results of a biological survey of the San Francisco Mountain region and desert of the Little Colorado in Arizona.” North American Fauna (1890): 1-4.
  4. Katie M MoriartyJohn D BaileySharon E Smythe, and Jake Verschuyl “Distribution of Pacific Marten in Coastal Oregon,” Northwestern Naturalist 97(2), 71-81, (10 August 2016). 
  5. Aubry, Keith B., et al., eds. Biology and conservation of martens, sables, and fishers: a new synthesis. Cornell University Press. (2012): 24-27.
  7. Linnell, M.A.; Moriarty, K.M.; Green, D.S.; Levi, T. 2018. Density and population viability of coastal marten: A rare and geographically isolated small carnivore. PeerJ. 6: e4530.

(7) Sable (Martes zibellina)

Photo by: Е.Медведева

The sable inhabits northern Europe and parts of northern Asia. In regions where both the sable and the European pine marten occur, interbreeding gives birth to hybrids known as “kiduses”or “kidases”.(1)


The sable has a slender muzzle, a wider head with pronounced zygomatic arches (cheek bones), the largest ears of all mustelids and a rather short tail compared to other martens. Their coat can be black, dark brown or light brown with a lighter, grey-tinted head, and the characteristic ”bib” or throat patch is reduced to a small blotch that ranges from light yellow to ochre in colour.


The sable is solitary and arboreal in habits, living in dense forests of larch, spruce, cedar, pine and birch in both lowland and mountainous terrain. They live in burrows near riverbanks in dense parts of woods. These burrows are commonly made more secure by being dug among tree roots.(2)

Diet and predators

Having broad paws covered with dense fur, the sable can climb trees well, though it prefers to prey on the ground; hunting various rodents and birds. Hunting primarily by both sound and scent, sables are omnivores, and their diet varies seasonally. In the summer, they eat hares and other small mammals. In winter, they feed mostly on wild berries, rodents, hares, and small musk deer. They are also known to prey on other mustelids such as weasels. They also occasionally eat fish and carrion.(2) Predators of the sable include larger carnivores such as wolves, foxes, the wolverine, the yellow-throated marten, tigers, lynxes, eagles and large owls.(3)

Fur value

Historically, the sable was hunted for its highly valued fur, and continues to remain a luxury good to this day. Sable fur was once considered the most prized fur in Russia, until the discovery of the sea otter in the Kamchatka peninsula in the 1740s, whose warmer, silver-tipped fur was considered even more valuable.(4)(5) The term “sable” is commonly used as a generic description for some black-furred animal breeds.

In social media

Recently, there have been many videos of a sable named Buddy being uploaded to the social discussion platforms Twitter and Reddit. Beware of the comments section on both of these, as you’ll come across many inaccurate claims of what the animal is. Though rarely credited, the original creator of these videos and caretaker of the sable is russian_sable on Instagram. You can also find videos of Buddy on the YouTube account SableBuddy Buddypositive.

Range map

Size: 38–56 cm / 15–22 in (males), 35–51 cm / 14–20 in (females)
Tail length: 9–12 cm / 3.5–4.7 in (males) / 7.2–11.5 cm / 2.8–4.5 in (females)
Weight: 880–1,800 g / 1.94–3.97 lb (males)
Lifespan: 7 years
Range: Most of Asia and northeastern Europe.
Conservation status: Least concern
Recognised subspecies(6)

  1. M. z. angarensis
  2. M. z. arsenjevi
  3. M. z. averini
  4. M. z. brachyura
  5. M. z. ilimpiensis
  6. M. z. jakutensis
  7. M. z. kamtschadalica
  8. M. z. obscura
  9. M. z. princeps
  10. M. z. sahalinensis
  11. M. z. sajanensis
  12. M. z. schantaricus
  13. M. z. tomensis
  14. M. z. tungussensis
  15. M. z. yeniseensis
  16. M. z. zibellina

  1. Heptner, V. G. “Mammals of Soviet Union. Sea cows and carnivora.” Vysshaya shkola 2 (1967): 1-1004.
  2. The trapper’s guide: a manual of instructions for capturing all kinds of fur-bearing animals, and curing their skins; with observations on the fur-trade, hints on life in the woods, and narratives of trapping and hunting excursions by Sewell Newhouse, edited by John Humphrey Noyes, published by Oneida Community, 1867
  3. Monakhov, Vladimir G. “Martes zibellina (Carnivora: Mustelidae).” Mammalian Species 43.876 (2011): 75-86.
  4. Lincoln, W. Bruce. The conquest of a continent: Siberia and the Russians. Cornell University Press, 2007.
  5. Pethick, Derek. First approaches to the Northwest coast. Jj Douglas, 1976.
  6. Wilson, Don E. & Reeder, DeeAnn M. (Editors) 2005. Martes zibellina in Mammal Species of the World. – A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference.

(8) Yellow-Throated Marten (Martes flavigula)

Photo by: Thai National Parks

The yellow-throated marten, also known as the kharza, is an Asian species and is the largest marten in the Old World, with the tail making up more than half its length.


The yellow-throated marten has unique brightly colored fur, consisting of a blend of black, white, golden-yellow and brown.(1) It has relatively short fur compared to the pine marten, sable and beech marten.


The diet of yellow-throated martens varies with location and season. Those living north of their range prey upon musk deer, which they hunt in groups. They surround their prey, increasing their chances of a successful hunt. Many other in different regions consume rats, mice, hares, snakes, langurs, small species of ungulates, cats, panda cubs, lizards, eggs, squirrels, birds, insects, nuts, and fruit. They do not however, eat carrion like other martens. In regions where their range overlap, the yellow-throated marten will even prey upon its smaller cousin the sable.(1)

Behaviour and range

The yellow-throated marten is a bold animal and shows little fear of humans or dogs, and is easily tamed. When it encounters a noisy crowd of people, it is slow to flee.(1)(2)(3)(4) The yellow-throated marten has a rather large range. Some individuals travel up to 20 km in a single day, while others travel less. In Thailand, yellow-throated martens are known to travel around 1 km per day, and have an annual range of 7.2 sq km.(2)(3) They prefer mixed forests composed of spruce and broad-leaved trees. In the northern part of their range, they also inhabit coniferous taiga. In the southern part of their range, they inhabit lowland swamps and marshes as well as treeless mountains in Northern India, Pakistan, and Nepal.(1)(5)

Little is known about communication of yellow-throated martens. It has been observed that they are social animals that travel and hunt in groups of 2 or more; making communication very likely.(2)

Range map

Size: 50–71.9 cm / 19.7–28.3 in (males), 50–62 cm / 20–24 in (females)
Tail length: 37–45 cm / 14.5–18 in (males)
Weight: 2.5–5.7 kg / 5.5–12.6 lb (males), 1.6–3.8 kg / 3.5–8.4 lb (females)
Lifespan: Not reported in the wild.
Range: Throughout Southern and Eastern Asia, extending throughout the Himalayas, Indonesia, the Korean Peninsula and the Chinese-Russian border.
Conservation status: Least concern
Recognised subspecies(6)

  1. M. f. borealis
  2. M. f. chrysospila
  3. M. f. flavigula
  4. M. f. hainana
  5. M. f. henrici
  6. M. f. indochinensis
  7. M. f. peninsularis
  8. M. f. robinsoni
  9. M. f. saba

  1. Heptner, V. G., and A. A. Sludskii. “Mammals of the Soviet Union. Vol. II, part 1b, Carnivores (Mustelidae and Procyonidae).” Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Libraries and National Science Foundation (2002).
  2. Pocock, Reginald Innes. “The races of the ocelot and the margay.” Field Museum of Natural History, Zoological Series 27 (1941): 319-369.
  3. Grassman, L., M. Tewes, N. Silvy. 2005. Ranging, Habitat Use and Activity Patterns of Binturong Arctictis binturong and Yellow-throated Marten Martes flavigula in North-Central Thailand. Wildlife Biology, 11: 49-58.
  4. Parr, J., J. Duckworth. 2007. Notes on Diet, Habituation and Sociality of Yellow-throated Martens Martes flavigula. Small Carnivore Conservation, 36: 27-29.
  5. Abramov, A., R. Timmins, S. Robertson, B. Long, T. Zaw, J. Duckworth. 2008. “Martes flavigula” (On-line). In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1.
  6. Wilson, Don E. & Reeder, DeeAnn M. (Editors) 2005. Martes flavigula in Mammal Species of the World. – A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference.

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