Martes martes | Pine Marten | Cat crainn



Conservation status

 Future Prospects
Overall Assessment of Conservation Status
Overall Trend in Conservation Status
Source: NPWS 2013

IUCN Conservation Status
Ireland (1)
Least Concern
Europe (2)
Least Concern
Global (3)
Least Concern
Sources: (1) Marnell, F. et al 2009; (2) Kranz, A. et al 2007; (3) Kranz, A. et al 2008;

Legal status

Protected by the following legal instruments:

  • Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC), Annex V
  • Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) Appendix  III
  • Wildlife Act (1976)
  • Wildlife (Amendment) Act (2000)
  • Wildlife (N.I.) Order of 1985

Native status

The 2007 IUCN European Red List for this species lists Ireland as one of the countries where it is native.

Source: Kranz, A. et al 2007;

Native? / Naturalised?

It is suggested that Martes martes was introduced to Ireland for its fur, but in pre-historic times.

Source: Harris S.,Yalden D.W., 2008.

Species Biology


The Pine Marten is a medium sized carnivore, which belongs to the Mustelid group of animals.

Adult Pine Martens are approximately the size a domestic cat, hence Cat crainn [in Irish], with a body length of up to 60cm.

They also have a long bushy tail that can be up to 28cm in length.

Pine Martens have a rich fur coat that is typically dark brown in colour with a distinguishing cream / yellow throat patch or bib and similarly coloured ear tips.

Adults can weigh up to 2.2 kg with males being larger than females.

Source: Dr. Declan O' Mahony.


Pine Martens are relative habitat specialists and require forest or scrub cover to exist in a landscape. In the west of Ireland they may have adapted to relatively open habitats due to historical clearance of woodland habitat.

Pine Martens are largely solitary animals that inhabit a territory that can range in size from 50 to 400 hectares, depending on habitat. On average, males will have larger territories (<300ha) than females (<150ha) and there may be some overlap between individuals.

Source: Dr. Declan O' Mahony.

Habitats may include but are not necessarily limited to;

  • Semi-natural woodland (WN)
  • Mixed broadleaved woodland (WD1)
  • Mixed broadleaved / conifer woodland (WD2)
  • Mixed conifer woodland (WD3)
  • Conifer plantation (WD4)
  • Scrub (WS1)
Sources: Harris S.,Yalden D.W., 2008; Dr. Declan O' Mahony; Fossitt, J.A., 2001.


Mating occurs between adults that are least 2 years old, normally during the summer months.

The species has delayed implantation and gives birth to an average litter size of 2-3 young / kits in spring that weigh less than 30 grams.

A variety of den sites are used to raise kits including cavities in trees, rocky escarpments and buildings.

The kits will typically stay with their mother for up to 6 months and then disperse to locate a new territory.

Pine Martens become mature at about 18 months.

The average lifespan of individual of this species in Ireland is probably between 3 and 5 years.

Source: Dr. Declan O' Mahony.

Threats faced

Forest and Plantation management & use
Roads, motorways
Predator control
Source: NPWS 2013

The 2009 Irish Red List of Terrestrial Mammals includes the following as a potential threat;

  • Habitat loss and fragmentation
Source: Marnell, F. et al 2009.

The global and European level IUCN Red Lists include the following as a threat;

  • Incidental poisoning
Sources: Kranz, A. et al 2007; Kranz, A. et al 2008;

Conservation actions

In the Article 17 Habitats Directive reporting for the period 2007-2012 no Conservation Measures in place or in the process of being implemented during the period were listed for this species.

Source: NPWS 2013.


World distribution(GBIF)

Much of Europe, apart from some southern parts.Western Russia. Iraq, Iran. Caucasus. Asia minor.

Source :Kranz, A. et al 2007.

Accuracy of world distribution shown in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) map below will be constrained by, amongst other factors, data held but not shared by countries and organizations not participating in the GBIF.

Irish distribution

Current Pine Marten distribution is largely concentrated in western counties and the midlands of Ireland. The species now occurs in approximately 50% of its historical range. Pine marten remain scarce throughout the majority of Munster and are very rare in Ulster.

Source: Dr. Declan O' Mahony.

Temporal change

Records submitted to Data Centre in 2023

The following map is interactive. If you would prefer to view it full screen then click here.

How can you help

The National Biodiversity Data Centre is trying to improve our knowledge on the distribution of the Pine Marten  in Ireland. Should you observe this species, please submit sightings to add to the database. Detailed observations will assist us gaining a better insight into where the species is most abundant in Ireland and we might also be able to detect regional variations. Please submit any sightings and photographs at

All records submitted on line can be viewed on Google Maps – once checked and validated these will be added to the Mammals of Ireland Database and made available for conservation and research.

Further information

For further information contact Dr. Liam Lysaght



Fossitt, J.A. (2001) A Guide to Habitats in Ireland. The Heritage Council.

Harris S., Yalden D.W. (2008). Mammals of the British Isles :Handbook, 4th Edition. The Mammal Society.

Kranz, A., Tikhonov, A., Conroy, J.Cavallini, P., Herrero, J., Stubbe, M.,Maran, T. 2007. Martes martes. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <>. Downloaded on 07 October 2014.

Kranz, A., Tikhonov, A., Conroy, J., Cavallini, P., Herrero, J., Stubbe, M., Maran, T. & Abramov, A. 2008. Martes martes. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <>. Downloaded on 07 October 2014.

Marnell, F., Kingston, N. & Looney, D. (2009) Ireland Red List No. 3: Terrestrial Mammals, National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Dublin, Ireland

NPWS (2013) The Status of EU Protected Habitats and Species in Ireland.  Species Assessments Volume 3. Version 1.0. Unpublished Report, National Parks & Wildlife Services. Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Dublin, Ireland.