Pine Marten

There are eight species in the "Marten" family across the world including Nigiri Marten in India, and some that are named from the regions that they are found for example American Marten and Japanese Marten.  In Europe we have two species of Martens, the Beach Marten whose range covers the southern area from Portugal across to Greece and is also found as far east as China.  In Northern Europe the Marten species is the Pine Marten.

The Pine Marten is found across a wide range of Northern Europe from Northern Portugal across to the vast Northern forests across Scandinavia and Russia.  It is also the only Marten species that is resident in Britain.  Over 99.99% of the British population is found in Scotland although there is thought to be a very small population  in both Kielder in Norther England and in Powys in Wales.  The Scottish population is estimated to be between 3000 and 4000 individuals and is slowly recovering due to better conservation, habitat management and awareness.  The Pine Marten covered most of Britain before 1700 and has been slowly declining every since,   by 1800 it was missing from most of England and Wales and was given legal protection in 1988.

They are not confined to woodland areas, but studies have found that they do need a large area of 100 ha plus as part of an active territory and the increase in confer forests in recent years has probably had a positive knock on effect on their numbers.

The Pine Marten is part of the Mustalid family (which also include Badgers, Otters, Wolverines, etc.  Many of the mustalid species are shy and semi nocturnal, this is partly due to the fact that its easier for them to hunt at night, or easier for them to avoid being hunted at night.  Whilst other species are prone to human disturbance and as much easier for them to avoid coming into contact with man during the hours of darkness.

They are similar size to a domestic cat with a body of 45 to 55 cm in length and the tail a further 25cm in length.  They weigh about 1.5 kg with the males being about 1/5 larger in size to the females.  They can live up to 10 - 12 years in the wild, but the average is much less at 3 to 4 years.


I have seen Pine Martens on a many occasions over the years and have taken photographs of them a few times, but due to their shy nature and nocturnal nature they are extremely difficult species to photograph.

They can be found in many areas across Scotland including the Ardurmurchan peninsular where I visited a very undisturbed location specifically to target Pine Marten photography, a selection of images from this visit are shown below.