The American Pine Marten

The American Pine Marten

The American Pine Marten is a smaller member of the family Mustelidae which means they are related to weasels, ferrets, badgers and otters.

Pine Marten in Canmore Alberta Canada

Like their cousins they are omnivores but they are predominantly opportunistic predators whose diet changes throughout the season depending on whats available. In some areas it seems voles are the dominant food source throughout the year but some areas have shown the Snowshoe hares are an important part of the diet especially in the winter. In summer the diet seems to be more diverse with the abundance of vegetation, berries and insects being eaten as well. Interestingly, it seems they maybe important seed dispersers for certain plants. A particular study showed that some seeds that have passed through the guts of a Pine Martin may have a higher germination rate than those just dropped by the parent plant.

Found throughout the Northern regions of North America, from the arctic tree line south to Mid-USA. They are highly adaptable as they cover a number of different habitats within their range. There seems to be more activity in the summer than the winter (Not really shocking, I'm the same way ;) )In studies measuring the activity level per day, some martins are active as much as 16 hours a day for large portions of the year, but drop down to being active for only about 5 hours in mid to late winter.

Pine Marten in a tree

With a life span of around 12-15 years, the Pine Marten reaches sexual maturity at around 1 year of age. There is a really interesting trait that Pine Martens have. The females enter estrus in July or August of one year and spends about two weeks courting the male before they mate. The embryo is then actually stored until mid to late winter when it is implanted in the womb to start growing. Gestation takes about 2 months at which point 1-5 kits are born.

This particular individual was spotted just outside Canmore while I was out for a hike. I was happy to follow it around as it scampered from one tree to another looking for food. We were able to spend about half an hour following it.

Pine Marten up a tree

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