Martens are predators. They form a family among animal species. They also include the badger, the polecat, the mink, the weasel, and the otter. They live almost everywhere in the world except at the North Pole or Antarctica. When we talk about martens, we mean stone martens or pine martens. Together they are the “real martens”.
Martens are 40 to 60 centimeters long from nose to bottom. In addition, there is a bushy tail of 20 to 30 centimeters. They weigh about one to two kilograms. Martens are therefore rather slim and light. They can therefore move very quickly.
How do martens live?
Martens are nocturnal. So they hunt and feed at dusk or at night. They actually eat everything: Small mammals such as mice and squirrels as well as birds and their eggs. But reptiles, frogs, snails, and insects are also part of their diet, as well as dead animals. There are also fruits, berries, and nuts. In the fall, martens stock up for the winter.
Martens are loners. They live in their own territories. Males defend their territory against other males and females against other females. However, male and female territories may overlap.
How do martens reproduce?
Martens mate in summer. However, the fertilized egg cell does not develop further until around next March. One, therefore, speaks of dormancy. The actual pregnancy lasts about a month. The young are then born around April when it is warmer outside again.
Martens are usually about triplets. The newborns are blind and naked. After about a month they open their eyes. They suckle milk from their mother. It is also said that the mother suckles the young. Therefore martens are mammals.
The suckling period lasts about two months. In autumn the little martens are independent. When they are about two years old, they can have their own young. In the wild, they live for a maximum of ten years.
What enemies do martens have?
Martens have few enemies because they are so quick. Their most common natural enemies are raptors because they suddenly swoop down from the air. Foxes and cats usually only catch very young martens, as long as they are still helpless and not that fast.
The greatest enemy of martens is humans. Hunting for their furs or protecting rabbits and chickens kills many martens. Many martens also die on the street because cars run over them.
What are the special features of the stone marten?
Beech martens dare to get closer to humans than pine martens. Therefore they also eat chickens and pigeons as well as rabbits, as long as they can get into the stables. Many farmers, therefore, set up traps.
Beech martens like to crawl under cars or from underneath the engine compartment. They mark it with their urine as their territory. The next marten gets so angry at the smell that it often bites rubber parts. This leads to expensive damage to the car.
The stone marten may be hunted. The hunters’ rifles or their traps claim the lives of many stone martens. Nevertheless, they are not threatened with extinction.
How does the pine marten live?
Pine martens are more common in trees than beech martens. They are very good at climbing and jumping from branch to branch. They usually make their nests in tree cavities, sometimes in empty nests of squirrels or birds of prey.
Pine marten fur is popular with humans. Because of fur hunting, there are only a few pine martens left in many areas. However, the pine marten is not endangered. Its problem, however, is that many large forests are being cut down. There are no more pine martens there either.