Species Profile

Profile of the pine marten

The pine marten is native to Britain and Ireland and is a member of the mustelid family – so its relatives include the weasel, stoat, polecat and otter. The pine marten is a similar size to a small domestic cat. It has a slim body, brown fur with a distinctive cream ‘bib’ on the throat, a long bushy tail and prominent rounded ears.

Pine martens like woodland habitats, but they will also live in scrub, rocky areas and crags, the latter giving them a chance to use their supreme agility and climbing skills. Pine martens prefer to rest and breed above ground and frequently den in tree cavities, squirrel dreys and wind-throw. They will also use purpose-built den boxes and owl boxes.

Pine martens are largely solitary. Mating takes place in July and August and 1-5 young (called kits) are born the following spring. The kits stay with the mother until the autumn when they are fully grown and disperse to find their own territories. Pine martens enjoy a variety of food and will eat what is plentiful locally. This may include small mammals, fruit, birds, eggs, insects and carrion. They are mostly nocturnal, but are often active during daylight in the summer.