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Pine marten facts

Updated July 19, 2017

Pine martens are members of the weasel family. Once common in North American forests, these small mammals were hunted and trapped by colonists until their populations declined drastically. Pine martens are listed as threatened in some areas.

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Small, pale buff, golden brown or reddish brown weasel-like mammal with yellowish chest, about 24 to 30 inches including the tail, weighing about 0.907kg. Males are a little larger than females. Unlike other weasels, pine martens are excellent climbers and will chase tree-climbing prey.


Pine marten habitat includes lodgepole pine, Douglas fir, spruce, and mixed hardwood forests. Destruction of forest habitat greatly reduced former populations.


Distribution of American pine marten is restricted to North America. Small populations inhabit parts of New York state, Michigan, Minnesota, Maine and Wisconsin.


Pine martens are omnivorous (eating plants and meat) and prefer mice, red squirrels, chipmunks, birds and eggs, and other small animals. They also eat berries, nuts and carrion.


Pine martens nest on the ground, in hollow logs or brushy undergrowth. Although females may be pregnant for nine months, 2 to 4 kits develop only in the two months before birth.

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About the Author

Based in southwest Florida, Laura Obiso has been writing articles and books since 1977. Her most recent book was published by Arcadia Publishing in 2008. For 19 years, she wrote medico-legal book chapters for Matthew Bender/LexisNexis, one of the world's leading publishers of legal analysis and case law.

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