jeudi 3 mars 2016

Farewell little beech marten

Having a walk in the forest, my dog Laïka, some metres ahead stops suddenly and begins barking fiercely, she detected something for sure on that side of the trail. Indeed I quickly find there a small little beast, which died last night probably. It does not show any wound and seems in good shape. I put it on a stone to shoot a picture and keep a souvenir from that small little life.

It is a beech marten (Martes foina), also known as the stone marten or white breasted marten. As the badger already described (see post 6/12/2015, Fauna & flora) it belongs to the Mustelidae family.

It is a carnivorous mammal. That species of marten is native to much of Europe and Central Asia, though it has established a feral population in North America. It is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN on account of its wide distribution, its large population, and its presence in a number of protected areas.
The beech marten's diet includes fruits, rats, mice, chickens, sparrow-like birds predominate, though snowcocks and partridges may also be taken. It likes to plunder nests of birds including passerines, galliformes and owls. Although it rarely attacks poultry, some specimens may become specialized poultry raiders. We also suspect that it attacks some kitten which disappeared in the farm.

The beech marten is mainly a crepuscular and nocturnal animal. It is especially active during moonlit nights. It is a skilled swimmer. It typically hunts on the ground. It is strongly territorial and chase other marten from its area that can range from 10 to more than 100 ha.
Beech marten is superficially similar to the pine marten, but differs from it by its smaller size and habitat preferences. While the pine marten is a forest specialist, the beech marten is a more generalist and adaptable species, occurring in a number of open and forest habitats.
Those two marten can't interbreed and have many small differences:
British zoologist George Rolleston theorised that the "domestic cat" of the Ancient Greeks and Romans was in fact the beech marten they used against rats and snakes.

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