American Marten (Martes americana)

Pine marten looks up, curious

American Marten (Martes americana)

The American marten, also known as the pine marten, is a small, nocturnal member of the weasel family. Martens inhabit mature conifer forests in the northern parts of North America and down through much of the Rocky Mountains, including Grand Teton National Park. These feisty carnivores are frequent visitors to the station and spend their time rustling through the garbage bins. As opportunistic feeders, martens enjoy munching on anything from small animals like squirrels and frogs, to fruit and seeds, and will occasionally scavenge on carrion. Their favorite food, however, is red squirrels, and they will engage in high speed pursuits through the treetops to catch them.

Something rather unique about pine martens is that they utilize a reproductive method known as delayed implantation. Females breed with males from June to August, but the fertilized egg does not actually attach to the uterus and begin development until the following February, after which the gestation period is only 28 days. The youngsters are full grown by 3.5 months and begin having litters of their own by the time they reach 15-24 months old! Learn more about these magnificent mustelids here.

Written by Timothy Uttenhove
PC: YNP on Flickr