Martes foina is closely related to the Pine Marten (M. martes L.) however it is more heavily built. M. foina are long and slender with short legs, they have long bushy tails. They can grow to a size of 40 to 50 cm in body length and weigh up to two kilograms. Their brown coats have a forked white marking at the throat. This marking is pure white in M. foina and a yellowish colour in M. martes (1).
Martes foina are crepuscular and occasionally diurnal. They are omnivorous and their diet includes smaller mammals, earthworms, small to medium-sized birds, eggs, and fruit (1). They are excellent climbers and they use this ability to access the nests of birds. They are also immune to bee and wasp stings, a defense that allow them to get to honey without injury (2). They are typically solitary animals, except during the mating season (2). The mating season lasts from June to August; the gestation period is increased through delayed implantation to 76 and 289 days (3). A litter consists of one to eight young which are born blind. Females care exclusively for their young, which are nursed and protected in the den. After weaning, which occurs at about two months, young learn hunting techniques from their mother. At the end of the summer they are independent (2). The average longevity of M. foina in their natural habitat is three years. The maximum life expectancy in the wild is 10 years (2).
Martes foina frequently live in areas of human settlement, yet are most often found in open rocky habitats. Sometimes up to 2400m above sea level (1).
IUCN Red List = Least Concern (4)
One unidentified variety of Martes foina that once occupied the island of Ibiza in the Balearic Islands was hunted to extinction in the 1960’s. Other M. foina populations are not considered threatened (2).
Description written by Lilli Lehtinen (2009)
(1) Burton. J. A. (2002) Mammals of Britain and Europe, Kingfisher Publications Plc, London
(2) Animal Diversity Web (2008) Martes foina [online] Available:
http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Martes_foina.html [date accessed: 15/05/2009]
(3) de Magalhaes. J. P., Budovsky. A., Lehmann. G., Costa. J., Li. Y., Fraifeld. V., and Church. G. M. (2009) The Human Ageing Genomic Resources: online databases and tools for biogerontologists, Aging Cell 8(1): 65-72.
(4) IUCN (2008) IUCN Red List of Threatened Species [online] Available:
http://www.iucnredlist.org [date accessed: 18/05/2009]