Pine marten

©Mark Hamblin/2020VISION

Pine marten

Scientific name: Martes martes
Largely confined to the north of the UK, the rare pine marten is nocturnal and very hard to spot. However, it can be enticed to visit a peanut-laden birdtable.

Species information

Statistics

Length: 46-54cm
Tail: 18-27cm
Weight: 0.9-2.2kg
Average lifespan: up to 8 years

Conservation status

Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. Priority Species under the UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

When to see

January to December

About

An elusive Mustelid, the pine marten is mostly found in the north of the UK, particularly Scotland. It prefers woodland habitats, climbing very well and living in tree holes, old squirrel dreys or old birds' nests. It feeds on small rodents, birds, eggs, insects and fruit, and can even be encouraged to visit birdtables laden with peanuts and raisins. During the summer mating season, they make shrill, cat-like calls. The following spring, the female will have a litter of between one to five kits, which are independent by autumn.

How to identify

Mostly chestnut-brown in colour, the pine marten has a characteristic pale yellow 'bib' on its chin and throat. It has a long, bushy tail.

In our area

Considered to be extinct in Shropshire for over 100 years, pine martens made a surprise reappearance here in 2015. We have since been running a project to monitor the population using camera traps, which have recorded at least 10 individuals. But they still need our help- woodland habitat is very fragmented in Shropshire and much of our native woodland has been cut down and replanted so recently that trees here are not old enough to develop hollows for pine martens to use as dens. We aim to work with landowners to plant more trees and leave standing dead trees on their land; and also to offer the martens more places to make safe dens by installing den boxes.

Distribution

Mainly found in Scotland, particularly in the Highlands, and Ireland. Populations in North England and North Wales are fragmented and small.

Did you know?

Bilberries, Rowan berries and Blackberries make up much of a pine marten's summer diet, often resulting in its 'scats' (droppings) turning blue or red in colour. Pine martens regularly leave their scats on forest trails or in prominent places like boulders to mark their territories. When they are fresh, scats may have a slimy appearance due to mucous binding them together. They may contain fur, feathers, bones or seeds.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many woodland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way.

Support pine martens in Shropshire

Donate to our pine marten project

Chas Moonie

Terry Whittaker/2020Vision