Martens

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 behavior 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.

Common misconceptions

The name “pine marten” can be confusing, since both the American marten and European pine marten are often simply called “pine martens”. Both are actually their own species but tend to be mixed up in context due to this similar terminology. The word “pine” can also be misleading, since 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.

Size: 32-45 cm / 13-17 in (males)
Weight: 280-1,300 g / 9.9 – 45.9 oz (males)
Lifespan: 6 years
Range: Northern North America, Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada.
Conservation Status: Least Concern

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

(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.

Conservation Status: Least Concern

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

(3) European Pine Marten (Martes martes)

Photo by SurreyJohn

The European pine marten is native to Northern Europe. Their bodies are up to 53 cm (21 in) in length, and their bushy tails can be 25 cm (10 in). Males are slightly larger than females; typically, martens weigh around 1.5 kg (3.3 lb). Their fur is usually light to dark brown and grows longer and silkier during the winter. They have a cream- to yellow-coloured “bib” marking on their throats.

Conservation Status: Least Concern

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

(4) Japanese Marten (Martes melampus)

Photo by てん

The Japanese marten is closely related to the sable. It is 0.5 m in length typically, not counting a 20-cm-long tail, and between 1,000 and 1,500 grams in weight. Males are generally larger than females.

Conservation Status: Least Concern

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

(5) Nilgiri Marten (Martes gwatkinsii)

Photo by: Navaneeth Kishor

The Nilgiri marten is the only species of marten 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)

Behavior

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)

Diet

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)

Size: 55–65 cm / 22–26 inches, with a tail of 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
References

  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 Files.com. Accessed August 17, 2012 at http://www.theanimalfiles.com/mammals/carnivores/marten_nilgiri.html.
  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 the western United States.(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 is believed that 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.

Diet

According to the Alaska Department of Wildlife Fish and Game, Pacific martens in Alaska consume voles, salmon, berries, birds, vegetation and dead deer.(5)

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.(6) 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, searching for information about the Pacific marten is at times difficult, since some researchers are not clear whether they’re referring to the Pacific marten, or more specifically Humboldt marten in their articles.

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)
References

  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). https://doi.org/10.1898/NWN16-01.1
  5. https://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/education/wns/marten.pdf
  6. 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. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.4530.

(7) Sable (Martes zibellina)

Photo by: Е.Медведева

The sable inhabits northern Europe and parts of northern Asia. It can be black, dark brown or light brown with grey on the head, with some individuals displaying a light patch of gray, white, or a pale yellow on their throat.(1) 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.(2)(3) The term “sable” is commonly used as a generic description for some black-furred animal breeds.

The European pine marten is the sable’s closest relative. They look similar in size and appearance, but the sable has a more elongated and wider head with pronounced zygomatic arches (cheek bones), longer ears and proportionately shorter tail.(4) In regions where both species occur, interbreeding gives birth to hybrids known as “kiduses”or “kidases”.(5)

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.(6)

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.(7) They are also known to prey on other mustelids such as weasels. They also occasionally eat fish and carrion.(8)(7) Predators of the sable include larger carnivores such as wolves, foxes, wolverines, yellow-throated martens, tigers, lynxes, eagles and large owls.(7)

Social media

Recently, there have been many videos of a sable being uploaded on the social discussion website Reddit.

Size: 380–560 mm / 15–22 in (males), 350–510 mm / 14–20 in (females)
Weight: 0.88–1.8 kg / 1.94–3.97 lb (males)
Lifespan: 7 years
Range: Most of Asia and northeastern Europe.
Conservation Status: Least Concern
References

  1. Ognev, Sergei Ivanovich. “Mammals of eastern Europe and northern Asia.” (1962).
  2. Lincoln, W. Bruce. The conquest of a continent: Siberia and the Russians. Cornell University Press, 2007.
  3. Pethick, Derek. First approaches to the Northwest coast. Jj Douglas, 1976.
  4. Shaw, George. General zoology, or Systematic natural history. Kearsley, 1812.
  5. Heptner, V. G. “Mammals of Soviet Union. Sea cows and carnivora.” Vysshaya shkola 2 (1967): 1-1004.
  6. 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
  7. Monakhov, Vladimir G. “Martes zibellina (Carnivora: Mustelidae).” Mammalian Species 43.876 (2011): 75-86.
  8. The Fur Bearing Mammals of the Soviet Union, produced by London’s Hudson Bay, in association with v/o sojuzpushnina

(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 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)

Diet

Yellow-throated martens are omnivorous, and their diet 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)

Size: 500–719 mm / 19.7–28.3 in (males), 500–620mm / 20–24 in (females)
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: Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Himalayas of India, Nepal and Bhutan, the Korean Peninsula, southern China, Taiwan and eastern Russia. In the south, its range extends to Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, the Malay Peninsula, Laos, Cambodia and Viet Nam.
Conservation Status: Least Concern
References

  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.

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