The American Marten (Marten americana) is often called the Pine Marten due to the resemblance to its European Pine Marten cousins.
General Description: Martens are beautiful members of the Weasel family and are often mistaken for Fishers, a close relative from the mustelid family. Fishers live in similar habitats and have almost identical tracks. The difference between the two animals is that Fishers considerably larger than Martens and their fur is darker than that of a Marten. Also Martens can be distinguished by two think black vertical lines leading from the tops of their eyes to their forehead. In addition, the ears of a Marten are proportionally larger than those of a Fisher.
Here are some average size comparisons between Martens and Fishers:
Marten Length = Female 18" - 22" and Male 20" - 25"
Marten Weight =Female up to 1.8 lb and Male up to 2.8 lb
Fisher Length = Female 20" - 27" and Male 30" - 40"
Fisher Weight = Female up to 8.0 lb and Male up to 15 lb
The fur of an American Marten is soft and thick. The thickness of the fur will often cloud the Marten print during winter time. The color of a Marten will vary from beige to reddish brown. The tails and legs are dark brown, while the Marten's chest and throat tend to be orange brown to reddish tan. The face of a Marten tends to be light brown, and again, has two thin but distinguishable lines of black fur which run from the eyes to the forehead.
Habitat: Due to their nocturnal and shy nature, little is known about the habitats of Martens. Solitary yet playful, American Martens survive on an omnivorous diet of squirrels (their favorite), birds, insects and fruit. Martens possess a very high metabolic rate which forces them to be constantly on the look out for prey. American Martens live in dense forest environments preferring a mix of coniferous and deciduous trees. The dead fall and ground debris in conjunction with a mature, healthy forest is critical to the survival of Martens. Because Martens spend most of their time on the ground, tree deadfall and debris enables the Marten to build a den, escape from predation and hunt in cover.
With an average territory range of 1-2 square miles, Martens are extremely territorial and will defend their ground aggressively against all intruders, especially other Martens.
Mating: Martens will begin to mate around their second birthday. The mating ritual of a Marten consists of chasing, wrestling and general play prior to engaging in the act of mating. Martens will breed in the late summer and will mate with several partners throughout the course of mating season. The goal is to pass their genes on to as many new Martens as possible. By mating with several partners, Male Martens give themselves the greatest opportunity for procreation. Similar to humans, a fertilized Marten egg will take around 9 months to gestate after which 2-4 kits will be born. A 'kit' is a baby Marten. Born blind and with their eyes closed, within 4-6 weeks, the mother is already feeding the babies meat. The Marten kits are fully weaned from their mother at 8 weeks, and are fully gown at 3-4 months. Soon after weaning, the mother will leave her kits who will then go and seek their own territory. The male Marten plays no part in the rearing of his children.
Range: The range of American Martens extends across the Rocky Mountains, Canada and Alaska, as well as northern Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. In addition, Martens can be found on the east coast in Maine, New York and New Hampshire.