02.13.08–Athabascan Word of the Week


Marten = SUJE

Marten–Martes americana

Order: Carnivora (flesh-eating mammals).

Family: Mustelidae (weasels and skunks).

Range and habitat: throughout most of Alaska except the southwestern and northern coastal plains; in coniferous forests and adjoining areas, occasionally rock-slide areas.

Size and Weight: 24 inches; 5 pounds.

Diet: generally carnivorous, including mice, rats, squirrels, and small birds and eggs; berries and nuts.

Sounds: generally silent.

Between a mink and fisher in size, the marten is typically weasel in appearance, with buff fur on its throat and light yellow-brown fur overall. It is an adaptable, energetic, solitary animal that is usually nocturnal and always extremely wary, and thus sighted infrequently in the wild. Marten cover distances of many miles in a single night’s hunting. They are active all year, denning in tree cavities or on the ground. They are great tree climbers and are largely arboreal, not the least oriented toward aquatic environments, although they are found in areas where dense coniferous forest extends right to the ocean’s edge.

Marten leave few signs other than tracks, and these are scarce before snow falls. Then, their tracks tend to lead to and from trees and rarely venture near water, as the minks usually do. Small, thin pads behind five toes and nails are normally visible in marten tracks, with size and spacing definitely larger than mink. Walking tracks are 6 to 9 inches apart; running, 2 feet separating groups of four prints, leaping, pairs of overlapping prints 4 feet apart.

Cited from: Animal Tracks of Alaska. Written by Chris Stall. Published by The Mountaineers, 1993.



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