American Pine Marten

American Pine Marten

American Pine Martens are small, mostly carnivorous mammals from the (Mustelidae) family. Weasels, mink, badgers, fishers, otters, wolverines, otters, and ferrets are other examples of mustelids.

American pine martens are also called American martens or simply martens. They have the American designation to differentiate between them and other species of marten. Some other examples of marten species are the Pacific marten of North America and the Eurasian variety of marten that ranges throughout Europe and Asia.

What Do American Pine Martens Look Like?

American pine martens look similar to mink, weasels, or fishers. In fact, people often mistake them to be fishers even though fishers are quite a bit larger in size.

Their fur, which people prize for its sheen and silkiness, ranges from yellowish-tan to dark brown, trending to black. They have a lighter colored patch over their chest and throat that is light tan to orange. Additionally, their heads are lighter colored than their bodies, while their legs and tail are darker.

They have cylindrical-shaped bodies that are long in relation to their total size. Their legs are short in relation to the length of their bodies. Meanwhile, their bushy tails are proportionately long. In fact, they make up approximately 26% of their total length.

An American pine marten’s head is widest at the jaws and tapers narrower to a pointed nose. Its ears are proportionately large and rounded at the tip.

Their feet have disproportionately large pads in relation to their body size. The reason being that it aids them in walking on top of the snow. In essence, they have built-in snowshoes. Additionally, the hair between their foot pads grows longer in the winter for extra insulation from the cold.

Male American pine martens range in length from 22.04 inches (560mm) to 26.76 inches (668mm) from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail. They weigh 1.03 pounds (470 grams ) to 2.75 pounds (1250 grams)

Female American pine martens are quite a bit smaller than males. They range from 19.76 inches (500mm) to 23.61 inches (600mm) for length. On the other hand, they range from .62 pounds (280 grams) to 1.87 pounds (850 grams) in weight. Source

What Do American Pine Martens Eat?

Mouse-like creatures called voles take up a large portion of an American Marten’s diet in a large percentage of their territory. They also prey on mice, squirrels, snowshoe hares, birds, eggs, frogs, small fish, and insects.

They’re not strictly carnivorous, though. They also eat nuts, various seeds, and berries. This varied diet of both meat and plant material makes them omnivores.

American Marten Habitat

American Martens prefer older, more mature stands of either coniferous or coniferous mixed with deciduous trees. They need a profusion of fallen logs and branches with woody debris and leaning snag and hollow crevasse trees to provide cover and habitat for themselves and their prey animals.

They also need specific types of features to provide denning sites.

Types Of Dens

Natal Dens

After breeding season in July, females give birth in March or April. They prepare natal dens to give birth in. Natal dens are generally in the hollowed-out cavity in the broken top of either a dead or living tree. Obviously, the tree needs to be large enough in diameter to have such a cavity.

Maternal Dens

Maternal dens may be in a similar location as a natal den but also may be beneath a web of tree roots or under a fallen log. Also, a jumble of randomly piled rocks is a good place to look for a maternal den.

After giving birth, female martens move their young to a maternal den. They may move to several different maternal dens.

Winter Time Dens

Wintertime dens are usually at ground level. A pile of boulders, under a fallen tree, or behind a web of tree roots are all good locations to look for wintertime marten denning sites.

Summer Time Dens

In the summertime, American pine marten dens are generally off the ground. Hollows in the tops of broken-off trees, the crotch between a tree and a large limb, and matted limbs created by leaning snags are all good places to look for American pine martens in the summertime.

Where Do American Pine Martens Live?

They are liberally distributed throughout Canada and Alaska. The northern boundary of their range begins at the arctic tree line. (The arctic tree line is the furthest latitude north that trees can grow. Beyond the tree line, the conditions such as temperature are too extreme for trees to survive.) From east to west, their range begins in Newfoundland and extends west through Alaska.

There are also American Martens In the lower forty-eight state states, but their population is more fragmented. It’s limited to the availability of their preferred habitat. Below is a list of states in the lower 48 that have populations of American pine martens.

  • Washington: Martens are located throughout the state of Washington where ever there is suitable habitat. In places range of the American Marten overlaps that of the pacific marten. Source
  • Oregon: In Oregon the Blue and Wallowa mountains, the Cascade Range, and to a limited extent in the Coast Range all have American pine Martins. Source
  • California: American pine martens live in parts of the Coastal and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges of California. In some areas their range overlaps with that of the pacific marten. Source
  • Idaho: In Idaho American Pine Martens are located throughout the state with the exception of the south central and southwestern counties wherever there is suitable habitat. Source
  • Montana: In Montana American pine martens are distributed widely through out the western 1/3 of the state. Source
  • Wyoming
  • Utah
  • New Mexico
  • Colorado
  • North Dakota: The Turtle Mountains which are located along North Dakota’s border with Manitoba Canada hold American Pine Martins.
  • South Dakota: South Dakota’s Black Hills have American Martens.
  • Minnesota: Martens are mainly located in the northern half of the state, especially in counties along the Canadian border
  • Wisconsin: In Wisconsin, American Martens are located in  Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland, Sawyer, Iron, Price, Vilas, Oneida, Florence and Forest counties. Source
  • Michigan: American Martens are located on the upper Michigan peninsula.
  • Maine: In Maine, look for American pine martens in the northern and western sections of the state. Source
  • Vermont: Bennington, Windham, Essex, Orleans, and Caledonia counties all have American Martins in Vermont. Source
  • New Hampshire: New Hampshire’s White Mountain National forest has American pine martins. Source
  • New York: The Adirondack mountains of New York have American pine martins. Source
  • Connecticut: The only information I could find on American martens being in Connecticut was an account of one being killed on a roadway within the state. Source

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