The Beech Marten (Martes foina), also known as the Stone Marten, is the most common species of marten in Central Europe. Beech martens are long, slender, short-legged mustelid predators with long, bushy tails. They 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, which distinguishes them in appearance from the Pine Marten whose throat marking is cream-coloured and more rounded.
Beech martens frequently live in areas of human settlement, often in attic spaces, but can also be found in the countryside, although they avoid areas where there is no cover. They inhabit the whole of mainland Europe as well as Western and Central Asia. Beech martens sleep in cover during the day, and hunt for food in the twilight. They are omnivores and their diet includes smaller mammals, earthworms, small to medium-sized birds, eggs, and fruit. In turn, they are sometimes preyed upon by raptors such as (among feral populations in North America) the Golden Eagle, and larger predators such as wolves, foxes or lynxes.
Beech martens are noted for their habit of damaging cars by biting through ignition leads and brake hoses and pulling apart insulation boards. This might be caused by the presence of territorial markings of other martens in the engine compartment. Beech martens also creep into outbuildings where they eat not only eggs but also poultry and rabbits. Beech martens characteristically leave small droppings to mark territory, often on raised land.
It appears to have been hunted to extinction in the British Isles with the last populations confined to South West England (Devon and Cornwall) The release of pet martens has led to the establishment of a breeding colony in Wisconsin, U.S.A.
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- ^ Tikhonov, A., Cavallini, P., Maran, T., Krantz, A., Herrero, J., Giannatos, G., Stubbe, M., Libois, R., Fernandes, M., Yonzon, Choudhury, Abramov, A. & Wozencraft C. (2008). Martes foina. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 21 March 2009. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is of least concern
- ^ Hofmann, H: "Wild Animals of Britain and Europe" page 132. HarperCollins Publishers, 1995
- ^ "beech marten". http://itech.pjc.edu/sctag/beech_marten/beechmarten.htm. Retrieved 2007-07-25.