The marten is a predatory mammal of medium height with a beautiful body and a large tail. Representatives of the marten family are excellent hunters, they have developed paw motor skills, as well as sharp fangs and claws that can inflict lacerations on humans.

Adults do gymnastics, which allows them to live up to 20 years, and cubs constantly play, publishing coo.

Species origin and description

Marten description

Photo: Marten

The origin of martens is a complex and mysterious question. To do this, it was necessary to conduct a whole detective investigation, determining the belonging of all existing species:

  1. Sable.
  2. Forest marten.
  3. Stone marten.
  4. Ussuri marten (harza).
  5. Kidus (a mixture of sable and pine marten).

These species belong to the genus of martens and are close relatives of minks, weasels, rodents, wolverines, ferrets, bandages, badgers, even sea and river otters. These animals have adapted well to life on all continents where people live freely. You can meet them in the Taiga, Europe, Africa, South and North America, and indeed everywhere.

They came from a common ancestor who may have lived 35 million years ago. The above species belong to the mustelid family and are related to the family of dogs, raccoons, bears and cats. It’s hard to imagine, but they really looked like each other, because they represented a detachment of predators.

More mysterious is the common ancestor of miacids, who inhabited the planet Earth about 50 million years ago! It is assumed that he is the forefather of all known predators of mammals. He was small, flexible, with a long tail and a large brain, which speaks of an excellent intellect at that time. After 15 million years, some representatives began to acquire the features of martens, from that moment their history began.

Appearance and features

Features of a marten

Photo: What a marten looks like

Wood martens have a flexible, slender and long body, covered with fluffy fur, the size of a cat. They differ from minks and ferrets in a triangular muzzle and ears, have a light spot on the chest, and a yellow or white throat. The color changes from light brown to dark brown. If you see an animal with reddish eyes in the dark, do not be alarmed, this is a pine marten, and not an evil spirit.

Sable is an unusually beautiful animal from the family of martens, which has a brown color that varies from light to dark. A distinctive feature from other species is the presence of fur on the soles, so it is easy to recognize it by footprints. Near Baikal, Yakutia and Kamchatka there is a black sable. It grows up to 50 cm in length, and weighs up to 2 kg.

Kidus (sometimes kidas) is a hybrid of the first generation of pine marten and sable, which interbreed in an adjacent habitat. Sometimes it looks like a mother, sometimes like a father – it depends on the genetic predisposition. It is a larger specimen, with a very large tail and a yellow throat patch. If it looks like a marten, then it lives according to sable habits.

The stone marten outwardly does not look like a forest marten in the color of its neck and the shape of the pattern: it bifurcates and reaches the front paws. Although some representatives of Asian countries do not have it at all. The wool is quite hard, painted in light brown colors. The nose is lighter than that of relatives. Despite its smaller size, it has more weight: from one to two and a half kg.

Kharza of all relatives is the largest and most decorated: the upper part of the body is 57 – 83 cm long, completely light yellow in color. The head and muzzle are black, the lower jaw is light and merges with the body. The tail is brown in color, its dimensions are from 36 to 45 centimeters. The weight of the animal is up to 6 kilograms.

Where does the marten live?

Where the marten lives

Photo: Marten

The pine marten can be found in Europe, northern Asia and the Caucasus. On the territory lives on tall trees of the Urals and Western Siberia. Sometimes it can be found in the city parks of Moscow: Tsaritsyno and Sparrow Hills. Gradually, the sable shamelessly forced it out of the range of the Ob River, before it was found there in sufficient numbers.

Sable occupied a wider territory: Siberia, northeast China, Korea, northern Japan, Mongolia, and partly the Far East. Unlike the pine marten, it prefers to run on the ground rather than climb trees, loves to live in coniferous rather than deciduous forests. These sedentary animals rarely change their place of deployment, only in severe cases: fires, lack of food or oversaturation with predators.

Kidas, as the heir of the pine marten and sable, lives in the places where these predatory individuals intersect. According to eyewitnesses, it is most often found in the Pechora River basin, in the Trans-Urals, Cis-Urals and the north of the Urals. Like sable, it prefers terrestrial existence.

The pine marten, unlike its relatives, loves a warmer climate and lives further south. The habitat covers almost all of Eurasia and stretches from the Pyrenees to the Mongolian steppe and the Himalayan ranges. He likes the steppe terrain with numerous shrubs. Some populations feel good at an altitude of 4000 meters, for which they got their name.

Kharza prefers a hot climate and lives even further south than the pine marten. There are quite a lot of it on the Hindustan Peninsula, the Chinese plains and islands. It is found in Malaysia, as well as the Amur Region, Primorsky and Khabarovsk Territories. Some residents of the Amur region sometimes also meet harza, but less often.

What does a marten eat?

What does a marten eat

Photo: Animal marten

Forest martens are omnivores. They hunt, preferably at night, for squirrels, hares, voles, birds and their eggs. They sometimes eat snails, frogs, insects, and carrion. In city parks they fight with water rats and muskrats. In autumn, they feast on fruits, nuts and berries. They catch fish and small insects. Sometimes they attack hedgehogs. In late summer and early autumn, it prepares food for the winter.

Sable, like its kidas hybrid, also keeps the forest at bay. But, unlike the pine marten, it gives priority to hunting on the ground, which is why chipmunks and moles predominate in the diet. Large males are able to kill a hare. Among birds, hunting prevails for sparrows, partridges and capercaillie – the chances of surviving when they meet are equal to zero.

Hunting for squirrels turns into a real thriller – sables chase the victim through the trees, periodically jumping from a height of 7 meters .

Stone martens are also born hunters, with excellent eyesight, hearing and smell. Thanks to this, they are able to track down any animal that seems edible to them. They differ from the previous representatives of the marten family in courage and cruelty: they penetrate dovecotes with chicken coops, where they destroy all prey.

Kharza is the strongest hunter of the family. Runs fast and jumps up to 4 meters. It hunts rodents, birds and does not even disdain grasshoppers. Quite often pursues sables. Nuts and berries are eaten in small quantities to maintain a sufficient level of vitamins in the body. He likes to eat musk deer.

Peculiarities of character and lifestyle

Marten photo

Photo: Animal marten

As previously stated, pine martens spend most of their lives on trees. They move well along them, jumping at a distance of 4 meters. Females and males have their own territory, which can overlap, where they build or use abandoned shelters of squirrels or birds. To identify their own lands, they use the secret secreted by the anal glands. They sleep during the day, hunt at night.

The main feature of the sable is a developed hearing and a keen sense of smell. Able to overcome long distances, which indicates excellent endurance. The calling card of the sable is an interesting way of communication. Most often, they gently purr, if you need to warn of danger – they crackle, and during the mating games, affectionately meow. also what was their role in education. This is a very surprising, rare and little-studied animal, which at a young age can be found with various representatives of the mustelid family: sable and pine marten.

Stone martens hunt at night, but during the day they sleep in piles of stones and rock crevices, and not on trees, like forest martens. This species is closer to people, because they often use stables or attics as shelters and hunt chickens and pigeons built by farmers. Outside the mating season, they lead a life of singles, not wanting to intersect with their own kind.

Kharza is distinguished by the fact that it hunts in a pack and is a rather social animal. In addition, she is very strong and able to cope with the cubs of a large animal, such as a deer or a wild boar. During the pursuit of the victim, he competently cuts the path, crossing the snow blockages along the branches. It does not fall through the snow, because it has wide paws.

Social structure and reproduction

Marten breeding

Photo: Marten

The rut of pine martens begins from late June to early August. Pregnancy lasts about 9 months, and cubs are born in the spring from 3 to 5 individuals. Initially, the female is constantly in a hollow with a brood, after a month and a half she begins to feed meat when her milk teeth erupt, a month later they climb trees.

In sables, the mating season goes in a similar way, but usually 2-3 babies are born. Males are very responsible for the family and do not leave the females after the birth of offspring, protecting the territory and getting food. Small sables feed on milk for up to two months, and after two years they start families themselves.

Kidas in terms of creating families look deprived. It so happened that as a result of hybridization, males lose the ability to reproduce. In flocks, like martens, they also do not stray, so they are quite logically called loners.

Stone martens are very similar in social structure to forest martens. Relationships between females and males are built in the same way, pregnancy passes and cubs are raised. In the wild, on average, they live 3 years, more lucky or successful – up to 10. In captivity, they often live up to 18 years.

The Harzes, despite their more collective activity, break up quickly after mating. The offspring lives with the mother until the next one appears, after which they leave her. But often brothers and sisters stick together, which helps them survive in the harsh nature. When individuals become more independent, they separate.

Marten’s natural enemies

Enemies of the Marten

Photo: Marten Jumping

No matter how universal warriors pine martens are, in the wild nature there is a predator for every predator. Dangerous enemies are hawks and golden eagles – you can’t escape against them in their natural environment, that is, on trees. At night, during the hunt, there is a great risk of becoming the prey of an owl. And on the ground, foxes, wolves and lynxes are waiting. They attack martens most often not because of food, but by removing a competitor.

Sable can be caught by a bear, a wolf and a fox. But they rarely succeed. The real danger comes from the representative of the marten – the marten. Also, if possible, an eagle or white-tailed eagle can attack. Competitors are stoats, capercaillie, hazel grouse, black grouse, partridge and other birds that eat berries that sable eats.

Stone martens do not have particularly dangerous enemies. Sometimes wolverines, foxes, leopards or wolves hunt them, but chasing such a nimble and fast animal is quite problematic. More problems may arise with birds: golden eagles, eagles, hawks and most often eagle owls.

Kharza is a real killing machine, able to withstand predators from which the rest of the mustelids would prefer to flee. And those who are really able to catch it do not do this because of the specific smell of meat, which is really very disgusting. But white-breasted bears and tigers sometimes kill these animals.

Population and species status

Marten population

Photo: Marten in the snow

In ancient times, the skin of the pine marten was very popular, as a result of which they were almost destroyed. Due to their large habitat, they do not cause great concern for their existence. But the constant reduction of forests can greatly affect the number of representatives of this species.

Sable was also endangered, but thanks to timely measures taken to restore the population and the extraordinary vitality of the animal, it is safe. In conservation status, it causes the least concern.

Kidas are the rarest of the family of martens. Of the number of pine martens and sables, at best, they make up one percent. People have yet to study these mysterious animals, which are unique in their kind.

The stone marten species are relatively safe. In many countries, they can even be hunted. And due to the fact that these harmful animals attack cars, gnaw through cables and hoses, some people have to get dogs or buy repellents.

Kharza is the strongest in the family of martens, but the only one listed in the Red book. The reason for this was the destruction of forests and forage bases.

The following countries protect it at the legislative level:

  • Thailand;
  • Myanmar;
  • Russia;
  • Malaysia.

Martens have gone through a long history, not giving way to other predators and surviving the harmful effects of people and climate. Their species settled throughout the planet Earth and are able to live in hot or cold climates. Some live in the mountains and some in the forests. They differ in their way of life and appearance, but their name unites them – marten.

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