Pine Marten – UK Wildlife
The Pine Marten is one of the UKs most elusive mammals.
Globally, There populations extend from Western Siberia to Russia and Europe.
In the UK they are still rare. Having an estimated population of about 3,500. Their stronghold being the north and west highland of Scotland. Here however the population continues to grow, their range spreading outward from their stronghold.
Pine Marten Images.
What is a Pine Marten?
It is a medium sized mammal belonging to the Weasel or mustelid family. They have a long slender body about 70 cm long and are about the size of a cat.
Pine Marten – History
Pine Marten (Martes martes) – Once common throughout the UK. Unfortunately, the species suffered serious decline, particularly during the 19th century. De-forestation and persecution having attributed to their decline.
As a result the UK population had dwindled. By the turn of the 20th century only isolated pockets remained. Chiefly these were in the North West Scotland.
In 1988 Martes Martes was listed under schedule 5 of the wildlife and countryside act. This gave the species legal protection.
Since then the UK population has expanded from the north west of Scotland spreading east and south. They are now found as far south as Argyle & Bute and parts of Perth and Kinross. Re-introduction schemes in Wales and the Scottish borders have extended the animals range further.
Pine Marten – Characteristics
Pine Martens belong to the Weasel family. They are brown over all, have a distinct light cream underside and front. While being about 70 cm long.
They can be distinguished from other Weasel type animals. In particular by their greater size. For example the Stoat is about 15-30 cm in size. While the Weasel is even smaller at about 15-25 cm long. Also there are slight colour differences. For example the Stoat has a distinct black tip to the tail. Weasels are brown overall with a pale underside.
In summary the Pine Martens greater size and distinct colour simplify identification. Further they are similar in size to a smallish cat.
Although carnivorous they have a varied and seasonal diet and will eat small mammals, particularly voles, small birds, berries and insects.
Typically they lives in mixed or native woodland. They can however survive in a range of environments including conifer plantations or rocky and even open landscape. Pine Martens, particularly males or dogs, can have large territories depending on the quality of woodland within their range.