Pest Of The Week – Pine Martens

The pine marten is a medium-sized member of the mustelid family of carnivorous mammals, whose other members include the stoat, weasel and badger. It is about the size of a cat, with a body up to 53 cm. long and a bushy tail which can be 25 cm. in length. An individual will weigh between 1.3 and 1.7 kg., with the female being slightly smaller than the male. The body and tail are covered in dark brown fur, which is short and coarse in summer, but thicker and silkier in winter. The pine marten has sensitive whiskers on its pointed muzzle and prominent, triangular ears. The fur on the paws is darker brown in colour, and the pads on the undersides of its feet are covered with fur in winter.

Found throughout Europe, in Britain pine martens are primarily concentrated in the Scottish highlands and Grampians, with smaller populations in parts of northern England and Wales. Although they occur in a wide range of habitats, they prefer well-wooded areas with plenty of cover.

Mating usually occurs when the animals reach two or three years of age and takes place in the months of July and August. The implantation of the fertilised eggs in the female’s uterus is delayed for about seven months, and only takes place in February or early March. After a gestation period of about a month, the young are born in late March or early April, in a nest which is an old squirrel’s drey or bird’s nest. The average litter size is three, and the young martens or kits weigh about 30 gm. and are blind at birth. After five weeks, the eyes open, and the mother, who is solely responsible for raising the young, weans them at about six weeks of age. At seven or eight weeks, the kits venture out of the den, and they can begin dispersing at 12-16 weeks.

Pine martens are generalist predators, feeding on small rodents, birds, beetles, carrion, eggs and fungi. In autumn, berries are a staple.

Pine martens are listed on Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended). Various methods of capturing or killing pine martens are also listed in the Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) Regulations 1994 (as amended).
It is an offence to intentionally or recklessly:
• kill, injure or take a wild pine marten;
• damage, destroy or obstruct access to any structure or place which such an animal uses for shelter or protection (a nest or den)*;
• disturb such an animal when it is occupying a structure or place for that purpose*;
• possess or control, sell, offer for sale or possess or transport for the purpose of sale any live or dead wild pine marten or any derivative of such an animal.
Knowingly causing or permitting any of the above acts to be carried out is also an offence.

For advice or further information on pine martens in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee or Perth, call GRAHAM pest control today and we could help