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American martens are small and agile members of the weasel family. With their sharp and semi-retractable claws, they easily climb trees and jump from branch to branch. Strong scent glands are used to mark trails through the treetops and territories on land. Martens are opportunistic feeders and typically forage on the ground. Their diet varies seasonally, and usually includes small mammals, such as red squirrels, redbacked voles, meadow mice, white footed mice, snowshoe hares and marmots. Depending on availability, as well as the season, martens will eat birds, eggs, insects, berries, beechnuts and carrion. Martens are very curious, and actively investigate every crevice, log, or stump in search of food. They are active throughout the year and are well-adapted for life in a cold and snowy environment. During winter, martens have thick, dark brown fur and an orange throat patch. Their summer coat is lighter in color and texture. Broad feet and fur-covered soles enable martens to travel on top of deep snow, but they often tunnel under the snow in search of prey. Martens prefer mature coniferous or mixed-wood forests. These areas provide important prey habitat, protection from predators, and denning and resting sites. Historically, martens were common in the forests that covered much of North America. Loss of habitat and trapping eliminated the species in the southern portion of its former range. Martens are now found in the forests of Canada and Alaska, northern New England and the Great Lakes region, and south through the Rocky Mountain and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges. Reintroduction programs have been successful in restoring marten populations in certain areas.
Our Animal's Story
Our marten, Dean, was captive-born on April 28, 2008 in Minnesota and arrived at ZooAmerica in June 2008.