Marten: Profile and Information


Marten belongs to the Mustelidae family, and they are Within the Guloninae. Martens constitute the Martes genus.

They have bushy tails and broad hands with partially retractable claws. Depending on the animal, the fur ranges from yellowish to dark brown and is prized by trappers for the fur trade.

Martens is a small, agile species, adapted to the ecosystem of the taiga, inhabiting coniferous and northern deciduous forests in the Northern Hemisphere.

Scientific classification

  • Kingdom: Animals
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammals
  • Order: Carnivore
  • Families: Mustelidae
  • Sub-family: Guloninae
  • Genus: Mars

Marten, one of many weasel-like carnivores of the genus Martes (Mustelidae family), found in Canada and parts of the United States and the Old World from Europe to the Malay region.

Different in size and colour according to species, they have slender bodies, short legs, rounded ears, bushy tails, and soft, dense coats that are useful in the fur trade. Martens is a forest-dwelling and typically solitary.

They climb quickly and feed on animals, berries and carrion. The litter contains one to five young persons; the gestation period, particularly in the northern regions, may last 290 days or more due to a delay in the uterine wall before the implantation of the fertilized egg.

Animals often referred to as “marten” but better known by other names including the Pennant, the large or fisher marten, and the foul marten.

The best-known species of Martens are the following:

The American Marten (M. Americana) is a North American species of forested northern regions. It is also known as pine marten; its fur is often sold as American or Hudson Bay sand. Its adult length is 35–43 cm, except the tail of 18–23 cm (7–9 inches). It weighs about 2-4 pounds (1–2 kg) and has a yellowish-brown coat that deepens to dark brown on the tail and legs, with a light white or yellowish throat patch.

The pine marten (Martes martes) of the European and Central Asian forests is also called balm marten and sweet marten. It has a dark brown coat with an undivided yellowish patch of the throat. Its head and body length is 42–52 cm (about 16.5–20.5 inches), and its tail is 22–27 cm (about 9–11 inches) long. Its shoulder height is 15 cm (about 6 inches), and its weight is 1-2 kg.

The stone marten or beech marten (M. foina) inhabits the wooded land of Eurasia. It has a greyish brown fur with a white bib separated in the throat. It weighs about 2–5.5 pounds (1–2.5 kg), is 42–48 cm (16.5–19 inches) long and 12 cm (about 5 inches) tall on the hip.

The yellow-throated marten of the subgenus Charronia is often called the honey dog because of its sweetness. It’ can be discovered in South Asia. Its head and body length are about 22–24 inches (56–61 cm), and its tail is 38–43 cm (15–17 inches) long. It has a brown coat that darkens to and fro the tail, and its throat and chin are orange.

The Nilgiri marten (M. gwatkinsii) looks similar to the yellow marten. However, it is few inches longer on an average, and the patch of the throat varies from yellow to orange.

Its body length ranges from 55 to 65 cm (22 to 26 inches), and its tail is 40 to 45 cm (16 to 18 inches) long. The Nilgiri Marten is native to the Western Ghats of India.


The Modern English ‘marten’ originates from the Middle English ‘Mearth’ or Martyn, which is borrowed in turn from the Anglo-French Martrine and the Old French Martre (Latin Tuesday), itself from a Germanic source; cf. Old English mear, Old Norse, and Old High German, and Yiddish mardar.

A party of martens is referred to as “richness.”

Ecology and Behavior

Martens is a solitary male, meeting only for breeding in late spring or early summer. Litters of up to five blind and almost hairless kits are born in early spring.

They are weaned after about two months, leaving their mother to fend for themselves at about three to four months of age.

Owing to their habit of finding warm and dry places and gnaw on soft materials, martens cause harm to soft plastic and rubber parts in cars and other parked vehicles, costing millions of euros annually in Central Europe alone, leading to the provision of marten-damage insurance, marten-proofing and electronic repellent systems. They’re omnivorous.

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