Nature diary Pine martens
Pine martens are one of Ireland’s rarest native mammals. For years, these cat-sized animals were on the brink of extinction but legal protection under various wildlife acts has meant that they are now in every county of Ireland.
A member of the mustelid family, which includes the badger, otter and stoat, pine martens have rich brown fur, a creamy yellow bib, prominent rounded ears and long bushy tails.
They use tree cavities as breeding and resting sites but will migrate to rocky areas and buildings if woodlands aren’t available.
Some farmers claim that increased numbers of pine martens are responsible for killing newly-born lambs or calves. Conservationists counter this suggestion by saying that pine martens are too small to kill livestock and generally feed on vegetation but will eat smaller mammals – birds and even chickens – if they get a chance.
A new website from the Vincent Wildlife Trust, dedicated to pine martens (pinemarten.ie) shares facts about these small mammals and explains how to keep
them out of pheasant pens, hen houses and wheelie bins.
Pine martens use tree cavities as breeding and resting sites