On The Hunt - Pine Marten

Pine martens are around cat size, slender, with big brown eyes, dark, chestnut brown fur, a bushy tail and a distinctive creamy yellow bib.

Pine martens are tree-living members of the weasel family. With a body length of around 53 cm, and a tail of around 25 cm, they weigh 1.3-1.7 kg.

Pine martens are active throughout winter, as they have thick fur, though those living higher in the hills may move to to lower ground in the colder months. The soles of their feet are covered in thick fur which probably helps them move across snow covered ground.

They are mainly nocturnal, hunting through the night, especially at dusk. They like to be on their own and pine martens won’t put up with another marten in their territories. Scats (poo) are left in prominent places along woodland tracks to mark their territories. Keep your eyes peeled when walking on Bennachie for these black, curled droppings.

Martens are mainly found in woodland, especially coniferous, but also mixed woodland. They are very agile, climbing trees easily.

What do Pine Marten Eat?

Pine martens are very good hunters, and can catch squirrels. In fact they get most of their food on the ground, hunting for small mammals, birds, insects, birds eggs, berries and carrion (dead animals).

The average lifespan is 3-4 years, though they have been known to live to 11 in the wild.

They like tree crevices for dens, but can also pinch squirrel dreys, upturned roots and rocks for their dens. If there are foxes in the area they will choose an above ground place for a den and have even been known to occupy large bird boxes or specially built boxes.

About Pine Marten Breeding

Martens breed once a year, mating in July/August. The female’s pregnancy doesn’t begin till January. This is called delayed implantation, just like badgers and 3 babies will be born in late March/April.

Born blind, they have a coat of yellowish-white hair, which changes to grey, and then brown as they mature. They stay in the den for their first 6 weeks, and the family will stay together for 6 months.

Just look at this comfy marten at home in a BBC Winter Watch Box.

Read more information on pine martens:

Jock says I can recognise every pine marten on Bennachie, as each one has a different bib!

Take a look at the badgers and pine martens as well as a hungry wood mouse in this lovely video, filmed at a hide near Aviemore.

Pine Martin (credit Richard Mullen)
BBC Winter Watch Box
BBC Winter Watch Box

This is part of the Winter Wildllife information.