The pine martin, part of the mustelid family, is a long, slender, and agile mammal that can move easily from tree to tree. It is about the size of a domestic cat, but with much shorter limbs. Their bushy tails account for almost a third of their total length.
This helps them keep their balance when chasing prey through the trees. Their heads are pointed with rather large ears. Their paws and muzzles are almost always darker than their coffee-coloured to reddish-brown fur with its grey-brown undercoat. They have a striking cream to yellow coloured 'bib' on their throats.
The pine marten is the only mammal capable of chasing a squirrel through the treetops and catching it. They can jump several metres through the air in pursuit of their prey and always land on their feet. But this high-energy hunt is not part of its daily routine. The pine marten is more of a forager than a hunter, often eating whatever happens to be lying around. Their diet consists of insects, birds, eggs, small mammals (from mice to rabbits), carrion, and the occasional squirrel. They also eat lots of berries and fruits in late summer and autumn.
The mating season is from July to mid-August. The prolonged gestation period is eight to ten months. After fertilization, the egg divides several times and then enters a resting phase. The egg only nestles into the uterine wall around January, developing into an embryo in late February to early March. The young are born in late March to late April. Litters can range from 1 to 15.
Initially, the young are blind and bald. After five weeks, their eyes open and they start to explore the outside world. By the end of summer, the young are just as big as their mother, although their fur is still lighter and fluffier than that of a mature pine marten. The young become fully independent in September.
|Head-body length:||40 - 53 cm (tail: 23 - 28 cm)|
|Weight:||0.9-2.0 kg (males weigh up to 1.5 times more than females)|
|Mating season:||July to mid-August|
|Gestation period:||8-10 months (delayed implantation)|
|Number of young:||1-5|
The pine marten can live to be 14 years old.