Martes americana



Martens are part of the weasel family and they have coats that can range from pale yellow to blackish-brown with an orange patch that appears on their throat in winter. They have short legs, a narrow body with a pointed nose, and males are usually larger than females.

Range & Habitat

Martens are found throughout Canada and the Northern US, although populations have dwindled or disappeared in Eastern Canada. They prefer old-growth forests and usually make their dens in hollow trees.

Diet & Behaviour

Martens are predators that feed mainly on rodents such as voles, mice, shrews, hares, shrews and squirrels, but they also eat carrion, bird and reptile eggs, and forage for berries.

Lifecycle & Threats

Martens usually have litters of three, but they can have up to six kits at once. These curious creatures mate in late July to early August, but don’t give birth to their young until March or April, which is a long time for such a small animal to be pregnant! After the female eggs are fertilized during the mating season, they don’t start developing into foetuses right away like in most other animals (including humans). Instead, the embryos wait until February, seven months after fertilization, to start developing. Martens are mainly threatened by habitat and food loss (especially because of logging), disease, and in the past, over-trapping for their fur.


COSEWIC: Not at Risk
CDC: Yellow

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Photo: Sangudo