Pine marten Martes martes

Pine martens are elusive animals, found primarily in the north of Britain. Mostly chestnut-brown in colour, pine martens have a characteristic pale yellow ‘bib’ on their chin and throat, and a long bushy tail.

Behaviour

They are fantastic climbers that prefer to live in woodlands where they live in holes in trees, old squirrel dreys or old birds’ nests. Pine martens feed on small rodents, birds, eggs insects and fruit, and although rare, can be encouraged to visit bird tables. During the mating season, pine martens make shrill, cat-like calls. In the spring, they have litters of 3-5 young, which are independent by summer.

Size

Length: 45cm plus a tail of 25cm

Weight: 900g-1.7kg

Average lifespan: up to 10 years

Status

Protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981, and classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.

Distribution

Found in Scotland, North Yorkshire and Northumberland.

When to see

Jan – Dec

Facts

Bilberries can make up to 30% of a pine marten’s summer diet resulting in the droppings turning blue in colour. The species use regular latrines, usually on boulders or logs that are in conspicuous spots. When they’re fresh, droppings may have a slimy appearance due to mucous binding them together. They may contain fur, feathers, bones or seeds.

Gallery

Common name

Pine marten

Species name

Martes martes

IUCN Red List status

Least Concern

When to see in Scotland

Jan – Dec

Where to see in Scotland

Pine marten’s are hard to spot, but there are several dedicated hides in Scotland including at the Aigas Field Centre in Inverness-shire. They have also been recorded on the Trust’s Forest Wood Wildlife Reserve in Cumbernauld.

Stay up to date with the Scottish Wildlife Trust by subscribing to our mailing list 

Back to top