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Pine Marten (Cat Crainn) --: The pine marten is Irelandís rarest wild animal. It is usually found in the west and south of Ireland. It is a shy animal and is also very hard to find. It looks like a stoat but has a longer body with short legs. It is also much larger and has a bushier tail.  Its coat is usually a rich dark brown. Pine martenís are sometimes called marten cats in some parts of Ireland. They are about the same size as a cat, but they have shorter legs and longer bushy tails. The pine martens length, head, body, tail is about 27Ē and it weights about 3 pounds. The pine marten is a woodland animal, with good strong feet and claws to climb. The marten lives up to 17 years and weighs about 800-1800g. The number of babies is 2 to 8 but usually 2 to 5. In one night the pine marten can travel up to 30 km. Young martenís start life with greyish-tinged coat.  The pine marten defends itself fiercely if threatened by other animals. 

As it startís to get dark the pine marten slipís out of its den and starts a nights hunting. In winter and spring it eats mostly rats, mice, rabbits, small birds, beetles. It is mainly a meat eater but will eat almost anything it can catch. It rests and nests usually above ground. The pine marten has sharp pointed teeth and both jaws are used for stabbing its food. The martenís ears are large and they have pale edges.

Mating occurs in September or October and the young are born in March or April. The usual litter is about three animals and there is one litter per year. The pine marten does not damage trees so it is not hunted. Its main enemy is man. 

It is protected under the Wildlife Act, 1976.

 Ashley McCarthy

 

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