Fisheries and Land Resources

Newfoundland Marten

Newfoundland Marten
Newfoundland Marten

Martes americana atrata


Newfoundland population is found only on the Island of Newfoundland.


Marten appear to prefer habitat with a structure oftern associated with an over-mature forest. There they find older trees with a number of dying or dead trees scatted on the forest floor or leanting on other trees. They appear to prefer thick shady woods with a dense canopy and may avoid large openings or clearings. For denning and nesting sites, marten use hollow trees, stumps, logs and rock crevices.


On the island of Newfoundland, viable populations are found in areas surrounding Little Grand Lake, Red Indian Lake, and Main River on the west coast. On the east coast, there is a small population in the Terra Nova National Park area.


Marten are carnivores, or meat-eaters, whose main food consists of small animals such as meadow voles, shrews, snowshoe hares, red squirrels and birds. They also feed on berries, bird eggs, insects and carrion when available.


In Newfoundland, the natural predators of marten include lynx, great horned owls, hawk owls and red fox. Habitat loss, rabbit snares, accidental trapping, disease and the possible scarcity of food are also threats to the marten population.


Marten live approximately 8-10 years in the wild; however, they can live up to 15-17 years in captivity.


About the size of a small housecat, the marten has a long, slender body, a small head with a short, pointed muzzle, large rounded ears and dark brown eyes. Dark brown fur, a paler head and yellowish-orange patch on the throat and chest distinguish the marten from others in the mink/weasel family. In summer, the marten's coat becomes lighter as it sheds its winter fur. New fur growth begins in late summer and is completed by late October. Its legs are short, but the feet are larged and furred, complete with sharp claws which help the marten climb trees.

Breeding Biology

Marten reach adult size at about three and half months of age. Females are usually over two years old before they have their first litter. Generally, loners, they come together only briefly during the mid-summer breeding season, often mating with several partners. Birth occurs 220-276 days after fertilization. For most of that time, the egg is in in a resting state, known as delayed implantation. The active pregnancy lasts only about one month. Kits are born in March/April; they weigh about one ounce and for the first two to three weeks they are blond, deaf and naked. the mother's den usually consists of an underground crevice or cavity. Sometimes, marten will take over a squirrel's nest or even use a woodpecker's nest in an old snag tree.

Average Weight/Measurements

Males have an average length of 50 to 63 cm (20 to 25 in.) including a 17 cm (7 in.) tail. Their average weight is 1100 g (2.4 lb.). Females average 46 to 56 cm (18 to 22 in.) including a 15 cm (6 in.) tail. The average weight is 750 g (1.6 lb.)


At Salmonier Nature Park

  • The animal on display at the Park is a captive bred marten, which was part of the park's captive breeding marten program. It is unreleasable to the wild.
  • Marten have been moved from "endangered" status to "threatened" status in 2007 due to an increase in their population.
  • The marten is one of only 14 native mammal species on the Island of Newfoundland. It was once trapped for its fur.


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