The Pine Marten | FAQs

Where in Britain do pine martens live?

Pine martens are found throughout most of northern and central Scotland, with some populations in southern Scotland. Pine martens have begun to spread over the Scottish/English border and re-colonise areas of Northumberland and Cumbria. Elsewhere in England, there are pine martens of unknown origin in Shropshire and Hampshire. Between 2015 – 2017, the VWT translocated 51 pine martens from Scotland to mid-Wales, leading to the re-establishment of a viable marten population in Wales.


What habitat do pine martens use?

Pine martens are a woodland specialist and have excellent climbing skills that allow them to live in forested habitats. They prefer to use sites above ground, such as tree cavities, in which they rest and breed.


What do pine martens eat?

Pine martens have a varied diet and will eat what is plentiful locally. This may include small mammals, fruit and berries, birds, eggs, insects and carrion. Pine martens may be attracted to wildlife hides and human dwellings, where people tempt them with peanuts, raisins, peanut butter, jam and even cake!


Do pine martens eat squirrels?

Dietary studies have shown that red squirrels are very rarely eaten by pine martens. Recent research in Ireland has shown that pine martens are more likely to eat non-native grey squirrels than native red squirrels. This research has shown that where pine martens are thriving red squirrel numbers have increased and grey squirrel numbers decreased. Red squirrels are smaller and lighter than grey squirrels and can easily escape to small branches away from pine martens, whereas grey squirrels are larger and heavier and spend more time on the ground – making them an easier target for a hungry pine marten. Further useful information can be found on the ‘Pine martens and red squirrels’ blog by Jim Dixon.


What should I do if I see a pine marten?

If you see a pine marten in England or Wales, please report it to us immediately. If possible, please try and take a photograph or video. If you’re in Scotland, the local biological records centre, will be interested to receive the record.


Where can I watch pine martens?

Pine martens are largely nocturnal and not often seen. There are several wildlife hides in Scotland where pine martens visit to take bait put out for them, including the Speyside Wildlife hide in the Cairngorms. There are also various holiday cottages and B&Bs where pine martens are attracted to feeding stations.


Why reintroduce/reinforce pine martens?

Pine marten populations in England and Wales have become so small and isolated that they are very unlikely to recover naturally without intervention. While the population in Scotland is spreading southwards, it is unlikely that it will spread to re-colonise central and southern England and Wales, due to the large conurbations in north-west and central England and a lack of suitable habitat in some of these areas. Translocating animals from healthy populations to suitable areas of England and Wales is the only way to restore viable pine marten populations to England and Wales.


What legal protection do pine martens have?

Pine martens are listed under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) which means that it is illegal to intentionally kill or injure pine martens, or disturb their dens. Any research that could disturb pine martens, such as trapping animals or monitoring den boxes, must be done under a licence from the relevant statutory body.