Pine martens (not martins) have dark fur, rounded ears, a size similar to that of a domestic cat, and are mustelids, meaning that they’re closely related to otters, badgers, and wolverines. They are the only mustelid with retractable claws. They use this ability to their advantage by living their lives partially in the trees. They jump and run over tree branches with ease, though they’re also fast runners on the ground. To protect the pads of their feet while running over rough bark, pine martens have thick fur on their feet. They also will always land on their feet if they fall, like a cat. On the ground, they eat berries, but they forage in the treetops for eggs and honey. Part of the diet of pine martens also consists of nuts. From time to time, they will prey on small mammals or birds, as well. Their homes are also typically in hollow trees. The ideal environment for them to make their homes is woodland, but if push comes to shove, they can also thrive in scrub brush-covered areas.
Mating season for pine martens is in the summer, usually in July or August. The young are born in early spring, in March or April. The mother pine marten doesn’t carry the child around for this long, however. After mating, the fertilized egg lies dormant for seven months, after which time the baby begins to grow and is born a month later. Litters of young pine martens are typically in sizes of one to five. In the first few months of their lives, they depend on their mother for help, but can venture out of the den after two months and can begin to live on their own after approximately 4 to 5 months.
Pine martens prefer to live alone. They are extremely territorial and one pine marten’s territory can be as big as almost 10 miles squared. They are also very shy. Pine martens live in Europe, and are relatively common in the United Kingdom. In Great Britain, the pine marten is registered as a protected species. Right now they are not an endangered species, and hopefully they will stay that way.
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