Living Organisms / Animalia / Craniata / Mammalia / Carnivora / Mustelidae / Martes / Species
Martes martes - Pine marten (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

  • Martre de pines (French)
  • Edelmarder (German)
  • Baummarder (German

Alternative species names (the second part of the binomial species names): [Genus] abietum; [Genus] henricii; [Genus] sylvatica; [Genus] sylvestris; [Genus] vulgaris; (B141).

Some authors consider it to be conspecific with:

  • Martes americana - American marten
  • Martes melampus - Japanese marten
  • Martes zibellina - Sable


Names for new-borns / juveniles

Names for males --
Names for females --

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General Appearance

Large mustelid, "almost cat-like" (B142) with long body, long neck, flat head and pointed face, large pointed ears. (B142, D30).

Similar Species

  • Other mustelids (polecat, mink), also cats (similar size).
  • Loping gait is characteristic, also colouring including creamy throat-patch, large ears, long bushy tail, upright body carriage but legs shorter relative to body than in cat.
  • Distinguishable from squirrels when seen in trees by much larger size, darker coat, longer body, longer tail.
  • Distinguished from Martes foina - Beech marten by larger ears, smaller and less pure white throat patch (B143).

(B142, B143, D30).

Sexual Dimorphism Female smaller (about 2/3 size of male) (B142).

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Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B141, B142, B143, B144, B147, B148, B221


Husbandry references:

(UK Contacts)

(Further Reading)
Click image for full contents list of ELECTRONIC LIBRARY

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

  • Mustelids

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

  • Mustelids

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Husbandry Information


N.B. Strong, agile, good climbers and able to escape through hole of less than 3.5cm diameter (B157.w7).
Individual Techniques linked in Wildpro

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Appearance / Morphology

Measurement & Weight

  • Males: 510-540mm (D30); 460-510mm Ireland, 510-540mm Scotland, 405-473mm USSR (B142); 16-21in./29-39cm (B144).
  • Females: 460-540mm (D30); 410-450mm Ireland, 460-540mm Scotland 365-420mm USSR (B142); 15-18in./20-31cm (B144).
Height --
Adult weight General --
Male 1500-1950g Ireland, 16301680g Scotland, 670-1050g USSR (B142); 2.7-3.5 lbs./1.2-1.6kg (B144).
Female 1100-1450g Ireland, 1285-1480g Scotland, 484-850g USSR (B142); 1.8-2.9lbs./0.8-1.3kg (B144)
New-born weight 1.1 oz / 30g (B142, B144, B147)
Growth rate Adult weight reached in first summer (B142).
  • 28 days Males 200g, Females 183g.
  • 54-66 days Males 680g.
  • 74-77 days Males 820g.
  • 82-84 days Males 1040g (950-1150g), Females 800-900g.
  • 105 days Males 1360g.
  • 182 days Males 1700g, Females 1350g.


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  • Face: dark brown, pointed. Ears large, upright, pointed (D30).
  • Ears: large (over 40mm long) upright, pointed/rounded. Edges pale (B142, D30).
Dentition (Teeth)
  • I 3/3 C 1/1 P 4/4 M 1/2 (B142).
  • Upper carnassial teeth long and narrow.
  • Upper molars transversely elongate (B142).
Eyes --

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Legs and Tracks

Toes unwebbed, hair around pads. Five toes per foot, sometimes only four seen in print, with claw marks visible in soft ground (B142).

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Long, fluffy/bushy; less bushy in summer (B142, D30).


  • Male: 200-220mm Ireland, 260-270mm Scotland, 185-228mm USSR (B142); 10-11in./25-28cm (B144)
  • Female: 200-210mm Ireland, 180-240mm Scotland, 170-210mm USSR (B142);9-10.4in/23-26cm (B144).

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Coat / Pelage

Adult Female
  • Dark brown (guard hairs). Undercoat on body reddish-brown, on limbs blackish.
  • Also described as chestnut to grey-brown (B147) or dark brown to chestnut (B144).
  • Chest and throat: creamy-white or yellow to creamy-orange.

(B142, B144, D30)

Variations (If present)
  • Summer coat shorter and thinner than winter coat and very dark brown..
  • Coat appears paler close to moult.

(B142, B144)

Moult Spring: Starts on limbs, finishes on back (B142).
New-born / Juvenile Whitish fur (B142).

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Neonate (New-born) Characteristics

Blind, deaf (B142, B147).

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Detailed Anatomy Notes
(Summary information provided for pertinent species-specific data cross-referenced in Wildpro)

  • Reproductive: two pairs of nipples (B142, B144).
  • Scent glands: anal glands, abdominal glands (most apparent before/during breeding season) (B142).

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Life Stages / Natural Diet / Physiology

Reproductive Stages

Breeding Season Mating July-August (B142, B147, B148).
Oestrus / Ovulation May be 1-4 periods of sexual receptivity in females at 6-17 day intervals in breeding season (captive data) (B147).
Gestation / Pregnancy
  • Delayed implantation 5.5-6.5 months.
  • Active gestation following implantation 30 days.
  • Total 230-275 days (about 9 months)

(B142, B144, B147)

Parturition / Birth March-April (B142, B147, B148)
Neonatal development
  • Birth: blind and deaf, with whitish fur.
  • 32-38 days: (B147); 40 days (B142) eyes open.
  • Seven weeks: deciduous teeth erupted (reported at 3 or 4-5 weeks) (B142).
  • Three months: Out of den and very active.
  • Four months: permanent dentition erupts, carnassials last (B142).

Leave nest late June/early July, disperse in autumn (B142).

(B142, B147).

Litter size 1-5 (Britain), 2-5 (Germany) (B142).2-8, usually 3-5 (B147); 3-5 (B148); 2-5 average 3 (B144).
Time between Litters / Litters per year One litter per year (B142).
Lactation / Milk Production
  • 5-6.5 months (B142).
  • About 4 months (B144).
  • Weaned 6-7 weeks (B147)
Sexual Maturity Fifteen months or more. Rarely breed successfully before third year (B142). Two years (B147)
Longevity 17-18 years reported in wild and 17 years in captivity (B142). Maximum 17 years (B147); 8-10 years (B148); 8-10 years in wild, 15 years in captivity (B144).

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Natural Diet

  • Small mammals (rodents and shrews), squirrels.
  • Other mammals such as rabbits and hares.
  • Birds.
  • Carrion.
  • Berries, honey, mushrooms, nuts, insects such as beetles, eggs.
  • Reptiles and amphibians.
  • Variable proportions depending on seasonal availability.
  • Eat about 140-160g food per night: about 10% of body weight.

(B142, B144, B147, B148).

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Detailed Physiology Notes
(Summary information provided for pertinent species-specific data cross-referenced in Wildpro)

Temperature --
Pulse --
Respiration --
Faeces Usually 4-12cm long, black, cigar shaped with convolutions (B142).
Haematology / Biochemistry --
Chromosomes 2n = 38 (B142).
Other --

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Feeding Behaviour

  • Hunt mainly on ground, also in trees.
  • Dig prey from hiding places and berries, mushrooms, eggs from snow.
  • Track birds to roosts.
  • May store food at several sites.

(B142, B144, B147).

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Parental Behaviour


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Social Behaviour / Territoriality

  • Size of home range variable depending on season and habitat.
  • Males larger home range than females.
  • Average 23 square km males, 6.5 square km females (B147); about 1.8-7.2 square miles/5-20 square km (B144).
  • Overlap between home ranges, possibly with temporal division of animals.
  • Considerable overlap between male and female territories (B147).
  • Independent subadults tolerated in territory (B147).
  • Territory boundaries marked with faeces.
  • Juveniles disperse in autumn.
  • Peak aggression within and between sexes in breeding season.

(B142, B147)

Inter-specific --

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Sexual Behaviour

  • Promiscuous.
  • Females may mate several times during oestrus cycle.
  • Precopulatory behaviour of following and chasing, with vocalisations such as purring and growling.
  • Male bites neck of female and drags about, mating posture is assumed by female, mating 15-75 minutes or longer.


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Predation in Wild

  • Eagles (B142).
  • Larger carnivores (B144).

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Activity Patterns

  • Very agile.
  • On ground, walks or bounds.
  • Well adapted for climbing.
  • May cover 20-30km in a night.

(B142, B147, B148).

  • Mainly nocturnal.
  • Sometimes active in daytime, particularly females seen in May/June carrying food.

(B142, B144, B147, B148)

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Habitat and Range

General Habitat Type

Prefer areas with cover of trees or scrub available such as large woods with closed canopy.
  • Coniferous forests, particularly spruce, may be preferred.
  • Also use deciduous forests and scrub.
  • In some areas treeless marshes, moorland, open fells.

(B142, B143, B144, B147, D30)

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Nests / Burrows / Shelters

Several nests, usually in hollow trees, also fissures in rocks, abandoned nests of squirrels, birds of prey (B147, B148).

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Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal Europe and Asia.
  • Palearctic: Europe, westernmost Siberia, Caucasus, Asia Minor, northern Iraq and Iran." (B143)
  • Europe:, in forested areas, east as far as River Yenesei. Mainland Europe and Balearic Islands, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily. Not found parts of Low Countries, most of Iberia, Greece, parts of north-western area of former USSR.
  • Within Britain: Mainly Scotland, "as far north as Cape Wrath and Tongue, south to Apin and Dalmally in Argyll, Rannoch in Tayside, and Perthshire" (B142). Rare in England and Wales, but populations in Lake district, Yorkshire, mid Wales, North Wales. Also Ireland - midwestern region wood and scrub areas.

(B142, B143, B148, D30)

Occasional and Accidental --


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Intraspecific variation

  • None (B142).
  • Subspecies poorly differentiated (B143).
  • Martes martes minoricentis (Menorca): larger. (B147).

    Some authors consider it to be conspecific with:

    • Martes americana - American marten
    • Martes melampus - Japanese marten
    • Martes zibellina - Sable


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Conservation Status

Wild Population -
  • Considerable declines in twentieth century, but no imminent danger of extinction (B147).
  • Rare but not endangered (B144).
  • Still widespread and abundant particularly in northern and eastern parts of range (B143).
  • Concern over populations on Mallorca, Elba, Sardinia, Corsica (B147).
  • In Britain: native, very rare in both England and Wales although locally common in parts of Scotland. Pre-breeding population estimate of about 3650, including less than 100 in England, about 3500 in Scotland, less than 50 in Wales. Population estimate was considered likely to be inaccurate by no more than 25% in either direction (B221).
General Legislation
CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
  • Excess trapping, also incidental poisoning and forest destruction (B143, B147).
  • Road traffic accidents, persecution or anything causing loss of individuals may affect isolated populations (B221)
Captive Populations --
Trade --

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