The cutest predator
American pine martens (Martes americana) are a member of the weasel family roughly the size of a house cat. Although Greater Yellowstone has a healthy population of pine martens, anyone who comes across one these cute little creatures ought to feel fortunate, as it is a rare event.
Pine martens have chestnut-brown fur and a bushy tail with a distinctive creamy-yellow throat. Their tail is long, fluffy and is about half the length of its body. A pine marten’s head is usually lighter in color than the rest of its body. It also has large, rounded ears, and a sharp nose.
Pine martens do most of their hunting at night and on the forest floor, but are also very capable in the forest canopy. They can survive falls from trees of up to 20 yards! Martens eat small mammals such as red- backed voles, red squirrels, snowshoe hares, flying squirrels, chipmunks, mice, and shrews. To a lesser extent, they feed on birds and eggs, amphibians and reptiles, earthworms, insects, fruit, berries, and carrion.