Body Length: 13-20 Inches
Tail Length: 6-10 Inches
Description: Slim bodied with a long, bushy tail. His tail and his underside is darker than his back. Dull Yellow patch of fur on his Throat and on his Breast.
One of Utah’s most significant fur-bearing mammals is the Marten. So valuable is this animal’s pelt that some nations, such as Croatia, have based their entire currency around it for almost a thousand years, either using his pelt in place of money, or featuring his image on their coins as they still do to this very day! Although the Marten’s pelt may not buy you much in a store today, the Marten himself remains a marvelous creature to observe if you should come across one in the forest!
The Marten is found primarily in places that have a cold winter. His range includes most of Canada and Alaska as well as the Continental United States in Maine, Minnesota, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Montana, Nevada (only around the Lake Tahoe area), Northern California, Oregon and Washington.
The Marten is an omnivore, his diet consisting of many types of food, such as mammals like squirrels and snowshoe hares, as well as nuts, berries, insects and birds. Keep in mind, however, that not all of the Marten’s food is found in the wild. In some places, the Marten makes such a habit of crawling underneath a vehicle and chewing up its rubber hoses and small parts that some people purchase insurance against vehicular Marten damage!
He spends most of his time in the treetops, which is where you are most likely to find him at any daylight hour. Since he is largely nocturnal, your best chances of seeing him on the ground will be at night when he is more actively hunting and foraging.
The Marten is a rather solitary creature, associating with each other only during the mating season which is in the summer. Although the Marten breeds is the summertime, the female will not give birth until the following Spring, which is an exceptionally long gestation period compared with other small mammals. Astoundingly, the reason for this lengthy gestation period is that the fetus does not develop continuously. Instead, the Marten fetus waits practically dormant until one month before his birth, when he will grow in one quick spurt! This method of gestation is known in the Animal Kingdom as “Delayed Implantation.” Other mammals who develop according to this method are the Armadillo, the Black Bear and the Fisher.
In Utah, the Marten is found primarily in the Uintas and will only rarely be seen as far south as Zion or Bryce Canyon National Park, though of the two he is far more likely to be seen in Bryce Canyon than in Zion due to his love for cold, dense coniferous forests and plenty of snow. Here at Rising K Ranch, your chances of seeing a Marten are extremely low- almost nonexistent. I have seen somewhat similar creatures while horseback riding on my own, such as the Ermine and the Long-Tailed Weasel (and those I have seen only rarely), I have never yet come across a Marten, nor am I likely to here.