American Marten



  • Common name: American Marten
  • Scientific name: Martes americana
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Mustelidae

Also known as

Pine Marten, Marten

Viewing opportunities

  • Martens are furtive and secretive and leave few signs of their presence. You might catch a glimpse of one stealing from your campsite.
  • Daybreak and twilight hours are best for marten viewing where you might see them hunting voles in a meadow or mature spruce forest.
  • The best time of year to look for marten is in the late fall and early winter when juveniles disperse.


  • Sharp, pale face, stand-up ears, black whiskers.
  • Long weasel body and long bushy tail.
  • Pale buff to dark brown fur with a patch of orange at the throat.
  • Large furry feet, semi-retractable claws.

Fast facts

  • Length: 50 cm
  • Weight: 0.5 to 1.4 kg
  • Lifespan: 10 years but they average 5 years
  • Predators: Raptors, lynx, bears, wolves
  • Habitat: Boreal Forest

Conservation status

What is conservation status?

  • Yukon: S5 (Secure)
  • Global: G5 (Secure)

Yukon population estimate

Not determined


Martens are solitary, except for mating season and while a mother is raising her young. They each have an approximately 5 km2 territory where they live and hunt. They are carnivores and don't store food for winter months so they are always searching for food. American Martens have limited body-fat reserves and lose body heat rapidly. They will frequently rest to conserve energy, tunneling under the snow to a warm cavity in a hollow log or tree stump. To further conserve energy, they may even go into daily torpor, where they reduce their metabolism and body temperature and stop moving for a short period of time.


Voles, deer mice, squirrel, lemmings, shrews, birds, eggs, hare and carrion.


Marten distribution map

Sights and sounds


Martens are quiet except for grunting and hissing like a cat if disturbed.

Marten track, front.
Marten track, front: 5.3 x 5.0 cm.

Marten track, hind.
Marten track, hind: 5.8 x 5.3 cm.

American Martens and people

  • Marten skins were used to make fur robes for higher-class persons. "Wealth woman," a mythical figure known to the Tagish, Tutchone and Tlingit people, wore such a garment.
  • One of the most cost-effective furbearing animals to trap. Because it is curious, the marten is also one of the easiest animals to trap. This makes it vulnerable to over-harvesting.
  • The biggest effect on marten populations is loss of habitat from large forest fires and clear-cut logging.