The marten is a predatory animal that is characterized as fast and cunning, able to move effortlessly in conditions of a large variety of obstacles. In addition, the marten easily climbs tall trees and deftly moves along their branches. It is considered a valuable animal due to the presence of a beautiful and warm fur, which is distinguished by a yellowish-chocolate color.
The marten has a lush and beautiful coat, while in winter the coat is the thickest and most attractive. It should be noted that the base color can vary and take on different shades of brown. In this case, the area of the animal's back is always darker than the rest of the body. In the chest area there is a bright yellow spot, which in winter is not as bright as in summer.
The marten has relatively short limbs with paws armed with very sharp claws. Each paw has 5 toes. The animal's muzzle has a noticeable sharpening, and the ears are short, triangular in shape, pubescent along the edges with yellow fur. The body of the predator is elongated, with dimensions of up to half a meter, with a weight of no more than 2 kg, while the mass of males is slightly larger than the weight of females.
Behavior and lifestyle
The shape of the body, as well as low limbs, indicate that the predator moves with the help of characteristic jumps, which affects the lifestyle of the animal. In addition, the flexible and slender body indicates that the animal feels great in the crown of various trees, jumping from branch to branch quickly and with lightning speed. The marten feels comfortable enough at height, since the sharp claws allow it to hold on to the smoothest surfaces.
An important point! It prefers to lead a daytime lifestyle, moving in the crowns of trees in search of food items. He is afraid of a person and always tries to avoid this meeting.
The nest of a marten can be located at a height of at least 10 meters, and for this it can use the hollow of an old tree or just the crown of a tree. This is a predator that is strongly attached to its territory and leaves it only as a last resort. This is especially true during periods of migration of squirrels, when martens, after them, leave the inhabited territories.
There are so-called walk-through areas of woodlands, where martens appear very rarely, and so-called "hunting grounds", where the predator spends almost all of its time. During the summer period, "hunting grounds" can be narrowed, if there is enough food. In winter, on the contrary, the territory expands significantly due to the lack of food resources.
Types of martens with photos and names
The marten is a carnivorous animal representing the weasel family. In nature, there are several varieties of these animals, the differences of which are quite insignificant and mainly depend on their natural habitat.
American marten (Martes americana)
It is considered a rare, poorly studied species, while by its external features the American marten can be compared with the forest marten. The main color of the animal varies from yellowish shades, while the chest area is lighter, and the limbs are darker, almost black. The way of life and the nature of the behavior of this predator cannot be fully studied, since the predator is predominantly nocturnal and does not let people close.
Ilka (Martes pennanti)
This species is represented by large animals, with a body length of up to 1 meter (including a tail), and weighing about 4 kilograms. The coat is dark, made in brown shades.In summer, the coat is shorter and harder, and in winter it is longer and softer, with a noble silvery tint. Ilka's diet consists of such animals as squirrels, hares, rodents, woody porcupines and various birds, while the predator eats fruits and berries with pleasure. Elka hunting is very diverse and does not depend on where the prey is - high in the trees or on the ground.
Stone marten (Martes foina)
It mainly lives in Europe, settling near human habitation, which is not considered typical for this family. The coat of this predator is quite hard and has a gray-brown tint. The chest area is distinguished by the presence of a lighter, almost white area of hair that extends to the beginning of the forelimbs. It is not so difficult to distinguish the stone marten from other species, since its nose and feet are lighter, without noticeable pubescence. This animal hunts for small rodents, frogs, lizards, birds, as well as various insects. Can eat objects of plant origin, but only in the summer. In addition, they hunt pets and birds. Due to the presence of valuable fur, this type of marten quite often becomes an object for hunting.
European pine marten (Martes martes)
This species is mainly distributed on the territory of the Euro-Asian continent. The main color of the animal is brown, with a yellow spot in the throat. The diet consists of both animal and plant foods, although the basis of the diet is meat, which the predator receives by hunting for squirrels, rodents, amphibians and various birds, and does not hesitate to take carrion. In the summer, the animal introduces plant foods into its diet, in the form of berries, nuts and fruits.
Kharza (Martes flavigula)
Due to the fact that the animal has an unusual coat color, many consider it a separate species. This is a relatively large species of the "marten" family, since its total length (including the tail) reaches a meter, or even more, and the weight of individual individuals reaches 6 kilograms. The harza hunts many species of animals with which she is able to cope. On occasion, it can include amphibians and insects in its diet. In the summer, her diet is more varied and includes components of plant origin.
Nilgir harza (Martes gwatkinsii)
This species is somewhat smaller, although the length of adults can reach 1 meter, although their weight is only 2 and a half kilograms. The behavior and lifestyle of this predator are poorly studied, since this animal spends almost all the time in tall trees and descends to the ground only to hunt. It is assumed that the Nilgir kharza is predominantly diurnal. According to some reports, this species of martens preys on squirrels and birds.
How long does a marten live?
Being in its natural habitat, under favorable conditions, the animal is able to live for about 15 years, although in fact this term is considered the maximum. The fact is that the marten has a lot of food competitors that are stronger than the marten. Despite this, the marten has not so many serious natural enemies that could significantly affect the total number of these predators.
Basically, the total number of martens depends on the availability of a food base, which, in turn, depends on several factors. For example, in the spring, as a result of floods, many rodents die, which occupy an essential place in the food supply of this animal. In addition, forests, which represent the natural habitat of this predator, are being cut down at a high rate.
Martens and forest are concepts that cannot be separated, since this animal prefers to live in forest plantations.It can be spruce, pine or mixed forests, regardless of the habitat - northern or southern.
For its life, the family chooses areas with a large number of fallen trees, as well as tall trunk trees. In addition, the presence of clearings and young dense undergrowth is very important.
The marten is also found in flat areas, as well as in the mountains, in the presence of vegetation. It can also be found in valleys, both large and small rivers. Some species prefer to live among rocks and stone deposits. As a rule, most members of this family avoid the presence of people. An exception to the rule is the stone marten, which can be found near a person's dwelling.
An interesting moment! The marten is characterized by the fact that it is distributed over most of the Euro-Asian continent, unlike some other representatives of the "marten" family.
What does the marten eat?
It is believed that the marten is an omnivorous animal, although the basis of the diet is animal food, represented by small animals, including field mice. In large quantities, martens exterminate rats, since not all cats are able to cope with this rodent.
Martens destroy birds' nests, and also hunt amphibians and reptiles. Often, especially with a lack of food supply, carrion is eaten. In the summer, their diet is more varied, since it includes plant foods, in the form of berries, especially the marten loves mountain ash, as well as nuts and fruits.
With the onset of autumn, the marten begins to form reserves for the winter, which allows it to survive such harsh conditions. The diet largely depends on the living conditions, which is associated with the presence of appropriate food components. The marten feels great at altitude, but it feeds mainly on land, where the diet is more varied and richer, especially in summer.
The stone marten can withstand the stings of bees and wasps, so it raids apiaries without any problems, and also feeds on wild honey. She can easily visit any chicken coop or other outbuilding, if she has something to profit from. Often, the marten kills more animals than it can carry with it, which causes a lot of harm.
The marten does not have so many natural enemies that could successfully hunt such a fast animal. Despite this, wolverines, wolves, foxes, leopards, as well as birds of prey such as eagles, golden eagles, owls, etc. are considered the natural enemies of marten.
Reproduction and offspring
As a rule, the total number of martens, from year to year, is practically at the same level, which is associated with the omnivorous nature of this animal. If some kind of food is not enough, then the marten easily switches to another type of food base. If for several years in a row there is a shortage or oversupply of food, then this can have both a positive and a negative effect on the total number of these animals, although such factors are extremely rare. The population of martens can be significantly influenced by a person if he actively hunts this animal. Upon reaching the age of 3, martens become sexually mature individuals. At the end of summer, their mating season begins. After mating, the female bears her future offspring for 8 months. This is due to the fact that the embryo begins to develop only with the onset of spring.
At the end of the gestation period, the female gives birth to 2 to 8 babies, naked, blind and completely defenseless, and their weight is no more than 30 grams. After a month, they begin to see, and after a while they have teeth, after which the female begins to teach them to eat animal food. Already at 3 months, babies easily jump on tree branches, and at six months they begin to independently obtain food for themselves.After a couple of months, it is already possible to distinguish females from males, since they begin to lag behind in weight and size. This distinction persists throughout life.
Before the onset of the real winter cold, young offspring grow to the size of adults, after which the family disintegrates. It is very important for young offspring to find unoccupied areas, although at first the young are hunting on the territory of their mother. At this stage, the young are most vulnerable to their main natural enemies.
Population and status of the species
The number of martens, regardless of their habitat, is very high, so hunting is allowed.
It is important to know! Today the marten represents a valuable fur-bearing animal.