21 to 26 inches. Weight: 1.5
to 2.75 pounds.
Primarily a boreal animal preferring conifer or
mixed wood forests. Uses deadfall and snags as
Eats a variety of animal and plant materials
associated with the mature forest. Is an
opportunistic feeder that primarily feeds on a
variety of small mammals.
Spends most of its time in the trees and is
primarily nocturnal. Dens in hollow logs and
trees. Mates during summer with young born
during April. Exhibits delayed implantation
and 8 to 9 month gestation. Average litter is
2 to 4.
Mink - has white patch on chin. Fisher -
larger, dark brown, grizzled head and back.
Red fox - white tip on tail.
Marten are woodland animals.
American marten are sometimes confused with the
European pine marten and the Russian sable, both of
which are different species of martens. Uncontrolled
fires, clear cutting lumber practices and trapping
pressures caused a significant decline in marten
populations from the late 1800's to the 1940's when
trapping seasons for martens were closed in most
states and Canadian Provinces. Since that time
protection and the reintroduction of martens into
acceptable habitats has proven to be a great
success. Martens are currently present in 17 states
and harvested by trapping in 10 states.
Marten have silky fur with guard hairs of about 1 1/2
inches in length. Colors vary from lighter buffs to
darker browns and many marten exhibit throat patches
that are orange in color or sometimes creamy white.
Males are consistently larger
than females. Average males are 2 to 3 pounds in weight,
with overall lengths of 25 to 30 inches including a
furred tail of 9 to 12 inches. Tails are usually the
darkest color on the individual animals. Females are
about 1/3 smaller than males in all sections.
Martens have 38 teeth, including
4 sharp canine teeth and flattened molars to allow
chewing of foods.
The marten has five toes on each
foot, however, the toe that is similar to our thumb is
reduced in size and usually does not appear in tracks
left by the marten.
Like other mustelids, martens
have a pair of scent glands located near the anus. The
musk is released from these glands when the marten is
excited and the odor is not as objectionable or as
powerful as mink, weasel or skunk musk. Marten also have
a large gland on their stomachs which gives off odors
during the mating season.
Semi-retractable claws on each
foot are extended to aid the marten in climbing and
killing prey species and the ability to retract the
claws while running keeps the claws sharp at all times.
Marten mate in July in most regions and the gestation
period varies from 220 to 275 days because implantation
is delayed. The length of daylight seems to trigger the
final development of the offspring, which usually number
1 to 4. Litter sizes of 3 seem to be mot common.
Males may breed with more than
one female and the females are solely responsible in the
raising of the young.
Although juvenile martens reach
adult sizes at 4 to 5 months of age, they usually do not
breed until their second year of life, which allows
their first littler at three years of age.
Martens are active primarily at night. An extremely
alert animal, marten move quickly through the trees ad
over land as a normal activity. A high metabolic rate
requires regular feeding and marten seem to be always
Except for breeding seasons,
marten are not sociable with others of the same species
and the animals lead mostly solitary lives.
Although marten seem to prefer
not to et wet, they can swim and the species frequently
hunt around mountain streams. Spawning fish are
occasionally killed in shallow water streams when the
temptation to kill is greater than the fear of getting
The species is territorial
during the bulk of the year, and male territories are
larger than female territories. The amount of cover and
the availability of foods probably influence the size of
the territory, with territories being larger when cover
and prey species are sparse. A female territory can be
as small as one square mile in good habitats, and
several times that in poorer habitats. Males often cover
5 to 10 miles regularly, and male territories usually
overlap the ranges of both other males and female
Coverage of territories is
irregular as marten do not seem to have regular circuits
and established trails are seldom followed far. However,
generation after generation of marten will usually cross
and recross trails at nearly the same laces for one
reason or another. Traveling is interrupted by rain,
strong winds and strong snowstorms.
Dens in cavities in tress are
used irregularly. Marten often seek out a temporary den
to rest after feeding.
Marten are highly skilled tree
climbers and they can literally gallop p a tree and run
over the branches in pursuit of prey. At times, marten
will travel from tree to tree, and available trees are
used as refuge from pursuit.
Marten use the same type of
habitat required by red squirrels and red squirrels
appear to be an important part of the winter diet of
marten in many areas. The most commonly eaten food is
the redbacked vole, meadow mice and white footed mice.
Aggressive predators, marten will attack and kill the
much larger snowshoe hares and marmots.
Diet varies according to season
and insects may be eaten when available and marten often
scavenge carcasses of deer and moose, returning
regularly to feed. Ground and tree nesting birds and
their eggs are another important marten food.
Marten frequently escape predators with their quickness
and tree climbing abilities. Fisher occasionally kill
marten and they have the ability to catch a marten on
the ground or in trees. Large owls also kill marten
occasionally and most other predators don't have much of
a chance because marten seldom venture far from
The solitary nature of marten
coupled with the infrequent use of the same dens keeps
marten relatively free of internal and external
parasites. Mange Marten serve a variety of prey species
by helping to keep populations in check. In many
mountainous locations marten are the only major predator
remaining in the high altitudes during the winter
Marten populations do not have
an impact upon man's crops or livestock. The species
prefers wilderness or semi-wilderness habitats where
contact with man is rare.
A marten is considered to be old
at 9 years of age.
Best Management Practices
Special Regulations Note
TRAPPING DISTRICT 1
through 5 SEASON DATES: December 1 - February
15 of the following year.
Trappers are required to personally present the pelts of
marten for tagging to a designated Fish, Wildlife &
Parks employee residing in the trapping district where
the animal was taken no later than 10 days after the
close of the season.
Skulls: It is
mandatory that the skulls of marten be turned into Fish,
Wildlife & Parks in good condition, at the time the pelt
is presented for tagging. The skulls will be retained by
Fish, Wildlife & Parks for processing and examination
and then returned to the owner if desired. Good
condition is defined as fresh or frozen and securely
wrapped in such a manner as to have prevented
decomposition in order that all tissue samples are
suitable for lab analysis.
Trappers are requested to be
able to identify or have skulls sorted by sex for marten
before presenting them to FWP personnel.