4 Things You Didn't Know About Coastal (Humboldt) Martens
The cute fuzzy creatures take center stage on our new episode of Community Conservation. Here's a little bit about them before the premiere!
As a note: due to how rare Coastal martens are, not many photos of them exist. Most of the photos pictured in this blog post are of the Pine marten, a close relative that looks extremely similar but is genetically distinct. The photo above is an official confirmed sighting of the species on a U.S. Forest Service trail cam.
1. They were thought to be extinct for over 50 years
Between 1989-2012, there were only 26 confirmed sightings of Coastal martens. They were considered functionally extinct, until a small population was rediscovered in 1997. Unfortunately, the population remains extremely small, with only 500 estimated Coastal martens remaining, inhabiting only 5% of their historic range.
2. They're smaller than you think
Average adult martens range from 20-24 inches long, including their tails, which are often about ⅓ of their body length, and weigh only 1.5-3 lbs. This puts them at about the same size as a pet ferret, and much smaller than your average house cat.
3. They're carnivores
Martens belong to the Mustelidae family, which encompasses about 70 different species of weasels, badgers, otters, mink, ferrets, martens, and wolverines. Martens are opportunistic predators who are known to eat birds and their eggs, small mammals such as squirrels and chipmunks, and vegetation like berries and nuts. They will also consume carrion, which is the meat off of animals that are already dead.
4. They like living in places with dense undergrowth
Martens prefer to live in places with a closed-canopy. They avoid more open environments like prairies or clear-cut forest areas, and instead prefer lots of structures low to the ground to protect them from predators. Dense vegetation near the ground and an abundance of shade-tolerant plants within the canopy like rhododendron and sisal provide martens with lots of protected and well hidden habitat.