Several skull attributes, such as an elongated braincase and well-developed cheekteeth, aid the pine marten in capture, restraint, and processing of prey and allow them to be remarkable predators.
Although pine marten male-female bonds are temporary, males may guard a mated female through territory defense if his range encompasses hers.
The pine marten is considered to be a habitat specialist because of its habitat criterion of having a closed treetop as cover from predation.
At high densities, intrasexual pine marten ranges can overlap, but density levels are usually between 0.3-0.8 sq. km.
Although female pine martens only have four functional mammae, they can produce a litter of up to 2-5 with an average of 3.
In Scotland and Minorca, pine martens may fill 30% of their diet with abundant autumnal fruits and berries, but in other regions, such as Poland, fruits may never be eaten.
The pine marten is listed as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List in view of its wide distribution; large, stable to increasing population; occurrence in a number of protected areas; and tolerance of habitat modification.
The pine marten is distributed through most portions of continental Eurasia from western Europe in the west to western Siberia in the east, from the northern edge of coniferous forest in the north to Asia Minor in the south.
Pine martens use abdominal and anal scent glands to scent-mark their home ranges and communicate with other martens.
Pine marten copulation is prolonged, lasting 30-50 minutes, and may occur on the ground or in trees.
The pine marten is omnivorous, eating small mammals, birds, insects, carrion, frogs, reptiles, snails, crabs, echinoderms, barnacles, fruits, and berries, but relies on small mammals for most of the year.
Pine martens prefer nesting underground during the cold winter, but hollow trees, squirrel nests, abandoned bird nests, and rock crevices are also used as hideaways.
Pine martens forage extensively in treetops and on the forest floor throughout the summer and autumn in order to store their food and compensate for low winter resources.
Pine martens experience a “false heat” in late winter in which increased aggressive social behavior forces the dispersal of remaining young before the new litter is born.
On the island of Minorca, pine martens are habitat generalists and live in shrubland, rather than forests, possibly because of the absence of predators.
Pine martens are born blind, deaf, and toothless with thick, short fur and don’t begin emerging from the den until 7-8 weeks later.
The pine marten’s home range may have high individual and geographical size variation as estimates vary widely between studies.
The average lifespan of a pine marten in the wild is 10 years, but in captivity, they can live up to 17 years, averaging 15.
The pine marten inhabits forest habitats, including deciduous, mixed, and coniferous forest and prefers old-growth forest over young forest.
Pine martens are solitary except when young are in the nest, but can tolerate independent subadults that did not disperse in their first fall.
The diet composition and proportion of the pine marten changes according to season and local conditions as they respond to unpredictable rodent booms and seasonally available fruits and berries.
The coloration of the pine marten includes a rich brown base coat; an irregular, creamy-orange throat patch; a grayish tint on the belly; and darkening on the paws.
The winter coat of the pine marten has always been in high demand; as such, the species has been successfully kept on fur farms, but trade of the fur on a large, commercial scale hasn’t been feasible.
As in many mustelids, reproduction in pine martens is tied closely to the seasonality of their temperate habitats, specifically to the increase of daylight in the spring.
Pine martens are nocturnal, mostly active during the night and at dusk.
In Scotland, pine martens are habitat generalists, rather than habitat specialists, and frequent many habitat types such as forest plantations, coarse grassland, and grass moorlands.
The pine marten has a rich brown fur coat that is thick and silky in the winter and short and coarse in the summer, after an annual molt in the spring.
Pine martens have no known negative effects on humans and have never been known as a pest as they avoid human settlements.
The pine marten’s medium-size substantially varies geographically and males outweigh females by 12-30%.
Although the home range size of the pine marten is uncertain, it’s clear that male ranges are larger than female ranges and that they overlap those of one or more females.
In the wild, pine martens may mate in their first summer at 14 months of age, but in captivity most males don’t breed until 27 months old.