Getting to Know the Pine Martin

Have you ever seen a pine marten? Pine martens are nifty little critters. They are closely related to weasels, minks, badgers and ferrets, they are fun to watch and martens are not especially afraid of people, though they are secretive and are not often seen. They have been hunted and trapped for their fur, however, and in some places, they still are. Marten diet Like other members of the weasel family, pine martens are carnivores. Their main food is virtually any small rodent they can catch. As it happens, they are very talented at catching their prey, too. Still, they will also take insects, lizards, snakes, an occasional amphibian and they will even eat grains and fruits on occasion. This creature is built long and close to the ground. Because of this, they can easily navigate the burrow of a ground squirrel or similar prey. The tail isn’t as long as the body, and isn’t greatly bushy. The body is amazingly supple and flexible, though. Marten appearance The coloration of a pine marten varies from a warm, rich brown with some yellow to grayish, and this partly depends on the season and the area they are living in. Pine martens have a white belly. The fur is quite dense, especially in winter. Color variations often occur between summer and winter. This is protective coloration and also helps the animals elude detection by their prey, as a brown pelt blends in with the forest background in the summer and a grayish Continue Reading →

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Getting to Know the European polecat

These are little critters that look rather cute. The funny thing is that they are fairly well-known in the US, though not in the wild state. What we call polecats aren’t actually polecats. The European polecat (Mustela putorius) is a member of the mustelid or weasel family and it is commonly found throughout Europe and the United Kingdom. In the case of the UK, they were nearly eradicated but numbers are on the rebound. The animals are often referred to as a ‘Fitch’ there. Like other members of the mustelids, this animal is a carnivore and because it is, it can be quite helpful to man. European polecat appearance The polecats have a body that is typical of the weasel family, being long, built close to the ground and cylindrically shaped. The average length of the animal is between one and two feet and it has a tail that is a little over seven inches long, often with a dark tip. These animals normally weight about three pounds. Males are usually bigger than females, especially in weight. European polecats can have quite a few variations in color, but they are most often rich brown with lighter markings around the head and face. It is common for the fur around the eyes to be dark, giving the animal somewhat of a cute bandit-like appearance, much like raccoons. The fur is course, unlike many members of the family, such as the mink. Because of this, the animal hasn’t been extensively trapped, as Continue Reading →

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