Pine Marten – Cat Crainn
Young pine martens are called kits. Life expectancy can be up to ten years, although the majority of individuals are unlikely to survive past five years in the wild. This animal is the rarest of all mammals in Ireland with an estimated 2,700 in the wild. They are cat sized with brown fur and yellow throat patch with long bushy tail. Around 2-3 kits are born during March and April.
Their diet consists of berries, fruits, small mammals, invertebrates, birds and amphibians. Native red squirrel numbers are on the rise as its grey rival declines in areas where the protected pine marten has started to recover as they prey on the bigger grey squirrel that is not as quick and agile as the red. Pine Martens require forest or scrub habitat that provides cover.
The Pine Marten is a protected species and were protected under law in 1976. This has helped numbers increase across Ireland. The pine marten is related to the Irish stoat, otter and badger (the Mustelid family). For more information see www.pinemarten.ie. The Pine Marten is a character in Johnny Magory and the Forest Fleadh Cheoil (illustrated by Don Conroy)