Meet the Model , Pippa the Pine Martin
by Graham Stewart
Pippa the Pine Marten – Martes martes
Once extremely common in Britain, The Pine Marten was persecuted to near extinction, by 1915 only small pockets of them remained. The decline was brought about by 3 main factors, they were hunted for their fur, game keepers culled them to minimise the effect of their predation and the reduction of their natural habitat (mainly coniferous and mixed forest). Thankfully their numbers are again on the increase with a strong population in Scotland and very slow increases in both Wales and Northern England. The species can also be found throughout Europe, Russia and Asia.
The Pine Marten is a member of the weasel family and has a dark brown coat with a creamy yellow patch around its throat. It is largely Nocturnal, and is extremely agile doing most of its hunting in trees. It makes its Den in a hole or crevice in rocks or trees. It is very territorial and marks its territory by leaving its scat (poo) in very prominent places to ward off other Martens.
Rodents (mainly Squirrels, in fact it is suggested that the Pine Marten is helping the native Red Squirrel by hunting out the American Grey Squirrel) frogs, birds and their eggs, berries and fruit.
Adults reach sexual maturity at 2-3 tears of age. Mating occurs in July/August although pregnancy does not start until January, this is known as “delayed implantation” and also occurs in Badgers. A single litter of 3-5 young, known as Kits will be born in April/May. The young are born blind and hairless and will not become fully independent until about 6 months. The male Pine Marten takes no part in rearing the young.
Foxes and Golden Eagles.
Protected by Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Hunting or persecution is illegal however this does not stop the Pine Marten falling fowl of legal traps put down for other animals such as foxes.
Full name: Martes martes
Length: Body 40-55cm Tail 18-25cm
Weight: 900g – 1.7kg
Life expectancy: 8 to 10years
Population: suggested 3500 – 4000 adults in Scotland with numbers elsewhere still extremely low