European Pine Marten


Corpse of dead animal is very important for many birds and animals to survive, so for a while they don’t have to worry were to get anything to eat. Here it is not strange that predators feed on carrion. In deep forest animals dare to approach carrion in daylight, but if the corpse is exposed animals come to eat only at night. European Pine Marten Martes martes is one of the most common predator that can be seen in forests of Slitere National Park and Latvia. This almost half meter long animal weighting 0.8-2.2 kg has brow coat. In winter its thick undercoat makes coat look greyish. Throat patch colour varies from light yellow to bright orange. This small animal has very long fingers with sharp nails that help climb trees and walk across snow without going down. Males mostly remain on ground because they are heavier than females that are lighter and can easily jump from tree to tree.

European Pine Marten has very wide food range. In summer they usually feed on different insects, amphibians, small insectivores, mouse-like rodents, birds, berries and fruits. When there is a bad year for mouse-like rodents pine marten mostly feed on squirrels and birds. It really likes honey that pine marten seeks not only in bumblebee nest but also in bee-gardens. In winter mostly it live by carrion. Pine marten can eat about 100g meat at once. It has to eat as much as 1/5 of its own weight a day to survive, so it has to run around quite much to make that happen.

Hunting area in winters is larger than 10km2, so if pine marten has had bad luck in hunt it has to run even 30km to have something to eat, so carrion is very important. When tummy is full pine marten goes to its lair to sleep. Lair usually is made under tree roots, tree stumps in hollows or squirrel nests. However, if the weather is nice enough it can sleep in bigger bird nests, but when it is very cold it make a nest under snow. If there are many pine martens in the same territory they go hunting each by itself. To stay out of any conflicts, they leave scent marks. To mark their territory martens leave faeces, urine, rub their anal sacs against branches, ground or snow. When little animal is eating it shouldn’t lose alertness so time to time it stands up to look around.

European Pine Marten is a rare animal in Western Europe while in Latvia it is common. Harsh winters when there are many fallen animals is celebration for this small animal.