This weeks #FactFriday we are introducing the european pine marten (Martes martes)
Pine martens belong to the mustelid family and are characterised by their cream/ yellow “bib” on their throat. They are the only mustelids with semiretractable claws, allowing them to spend much of their time in the trees. They are mostly active at twilight and night.
Once heavily persecuted, these animals have been making a recovery in Scotland. A study in 2012 found that martens have spread into Sutherland and Caithness and into Moray, Aberdeenshire, Perthshire, Tayside, and Stirlingshire, with some in the Central Belt, on the Kintyre and Cowal peninsulas and on Skye and Mull. Their population expansion has been linked to the reducing numbers of grey squirrels. Grey squirrel numbers decline in areas where they overlap with pine marten populations, allowing red squirrel numbers to increase. This is thought to be due to grey squirrels not having the same danger response to pine martens as red squirrels, and being bigger and less agile, allowing them to be caught more easily.