Pine Marten

Martes martes - Cat Crainn

Rehabilitation of wildlife casualties requires a licence and a large investment of time and resources. It is mainly in the animal’s best interest to transfer it to an appropriately trained and equipped individual/organisation as soon as possible.

Before attempting to capture a wildlife casualty:

  • Observe, assess, discuss, then decide whether intervention is appropriate
  • All wild animals can potentially transmit disease and inflict serious injuries
  • Remember, your own safety is of paramount importance


  • Road traffic accident casualty
  • A pine marten that will allow you to approach it is usually sick
  • Damaged limb/s
  • Obvious wounds
  • If it is in danger e.g. from dogs/machinery
  • Pine marten kit that still has eyes closed or is crawling unsteadily (under 12 week of age)
  • Trapped or caught e.g. in fence – do NOT cut free and release until fully assessed
    (NB; a trapped animal will display a high levels of aggression)
  • If unresponsive/unconscious – needs veterinary attention immediately


  • If you are not equipped
  • Healthy adult pine marten in garden
  • If you or others would be put in too much danger


FIRST try to call relevant contact number from CONTACT page for further advice, if unavailable try calling a vet from the CONTACT page


  • Follow capture instructions below
  • Capture ONLY if you have adequate equipment and container
  • Consider personal safety on roads e.g. reflective jackets, warning signs
  • Bring to a vet if possible, if not bring home temporarily
  • Follow husbandry advice for feeding and housing
  • Call relevant contact number from CONTACT page for further advice


  • If you can approach the animal lay a blanket/coat over the casualty for warmth, cover head
  • If animal is on the road, protect it from traffic if possible
  • Consider personal safety on roads e.g. reflective jackets, warning signs
  • If unconscious – do not drag the animal off the road, IF safe to do so, lift it to a safe place on a coat/towel
  • Note exact location and call relevant person from CONTACT page
  • Ideally stay with the casualty until someone comes to help

Capturing and restraining an injured or ill animal is extremely stressful, and your primary goal is to reduce stress by minimising pain and distress

A thick blanket, gauntlet type gloves, long-handled net, soft-headed broom, dog grasper,
sturdy mesh cat crush cage or rigid wire mesh container or feral cat trap
Ideally at least 2 people

Cat Trap
Crush Cage

Caught in snare

  • Dog grasper slid over the head and one front leg and tightened
  • DO NOT CUT FREE AND RELEASE! (need to rule out underlying injuries from snare)
  • Person two cuts wire so animals can be rescued, along with any embedded snare section
  • The container must be large enough to fit pine marten and any embedded snare
  • Pine marten pulled/lifted into open container (support rump by scruffing it as you lift)
  • Container closed, grasper released and carefully withdrawn WITHOUT letting pine marten out

Unconscious casualty capture (e.g. hit by a car on-road)

  • If an animal lying as if unconscious, poke gently with a stick/brush to check for movement
  • If no movement, still handle with great care as handling could bring it back to consciousness
  • Put a towel overhead
  • Scruff tightly with both hands and lift into an open waiting container


  • Put a towel over head. With thick gloves roll the animal onto the blanket, lift and tip into an open waiting container
Trap capture (if mobile)

  • Choose an area that the pine marten frequents on a daily basis, ideally with a hidden vantage point so you can check on the trap
  • Place a trap here with ‘bait’ – tempting food, inside it
  • Any type of fresh, human consumption quality (ideally smelly!) meat or fish will do as bait
  • Check the trap at least every 6 hrs
  • Remove uneaten food and replace it with fresh food as necessary

Pine marten in tap © Geoff Small

Capture notes
Consider personal safety on roads: reflective jackets, warning signs etc
Crouch down when approaching – you appear less of a threat
Approach slowly, stopping if the animal appears ready to flee

Sturdy carrier – wire mesh or solid container with a secure lid, ideally a mesh crush cage from the vet
Dog carrier/puppy crate
Avoid direct sunlight – the danger of overheating
Cover container with a towel, darkness will reduce stress

Do not handle unnecessarily
Once captured do not try to calm the animal by talking to it
Keep other domestic animals out of sight

See SUPPLIERS page for food and equipment mentioned below

Are VERY destructive, will bite and chew. If teeth damaged, animal may be un-releasable
Escape artists!! Will climb out of any container if not fully enclosed
Cage must be large enough for animal to stand up and turn around in
House in quiet area away from domestic animals and children
Darken the container to reduce stress
Bedding can be straw or hay if obtainable, otherwise line container with newspaper
Ideally solid walls! concrete, stone, thick wood, rigid plastic

  • Dog cage/crate from the vet
  • Building site mortar tub, with lid (remember ventilation)
  • Empty deep water tank, with lid
  • Empty deep wheelie bin in an emergency!
Transport Container

If pine marten is very sick and unresponsive; wrap in warm towels
Place the cage in a warm area indoors

Tinned dog/cat food as emergency short term food
Heavy bowl of drinking water if animal bright and alert


See SUPPLIES page for food and equipment mentioned below

Step by Step:

  • Weigh
  • Warm-up
  • Stimulate to urinate/defecate
  • Provide fluids
Pine Marten Kit

House in cage as for adult above
Use towels on top of newspaper for bedding
Keep indoors, in a quiet darkened place, away from children and domestic animals
Only handle for feeding

Young kits can be weighted on digital kitchen scales

Kit needs to be dry and feel warm to the touch
Warm-up slowly with warm towels if very cold
Ambient heating is best so ideally place the cage in a warm room. Use a heat pad/heat mat for very young kits. Heat lamps can also be used for this purpose.
Beware overheating can also kill so give enough space that the kit can move away from the heat if necessary.
If the kit is cold it will be unwilling to feed

Very young kits (under 3 weeks of age) need help urinating and defecating
Toilet at regular intervals: 2 hourly initially, moving to longer intervals as dictated by the animal
Before and after each feed gently stroke their genital and anal area with damp cotton wool until urine and/or faeces is produced
Toileting seems to act as a stimulant to start suckling



Rehydration solution/ ‘milk’ suggestions:

  • Rehydration solution – “1 pinch of sugar and 1 pinch of salt in 1 cup of warm water”
  • Feline milk replacement e.g. Royal Canin Kitten Milk

ALL feeds should be lukewarm
(24hrs of rehydration solution feeds is fine if alternatives are not possible)
Only handle for feeding (for frequency see below)

DANGERAspiration Pneumonia – inhaling fluid into the lungs
If a bubble of liquid appears at the nose or the kit starts sneezing or shaking its head, stop feeding immediately and tilt the head down to allow any fluid to drain out. Dab with tissue, take a break and then start again very slowly

Preventative measures:

  • Use rehydration solution for the first few feeds while you and the kit get used to feeding
  • Hold the kit vertically or lie on its belly whilst feeding
  • Always feed patiently, slowly and gently
  • Try to get the kit to lick/suck the fluids slowly rather than guzzling

Take to vet for antibiotics and other respiratory drugs if kit inhales fluids and starts coughing for an extended period of time, breathing heavily or breathing with mouth open

Introducing ‘milk’
1st feed – rehydration solution
2nd feed – ½ rehydration solution, ½ milk (Royal Canin Kitten Milk)
3rd feed – ¼ rehydration solution, ¾ milk
4th feed – milk

If the kit starts having diarrhoea or disimproves when milk is introduced then reduce milk formula, increase rehydration solution, and then gradually begin to increase milk content

Good – scats (faeces) varies tremendously but they tend to be dark in colour and 4-12cm long x 0.8-1.8cm in diameter. They often have a coiled and twisted appearance

On milk formula, faeces will be ??

Bad – pale, runny, watery ??
Seek veterinary attention if unsure or worried
If using milk formula then change back to rehydration fluids for 24hrs
Sterilise all feeding equipment
Once faeces look normal again, slowly reintroduce milk formula


  • Syringe with teat but be aware of aspiration pneumonia (mentioned above) and feed very slowly watching to check that the kit swallows as you feed
  • Kitten feeding bottle

Quantity &Frequency  (ROUGH guide)

Weight Approximate age Quantity per feed Frequency
70 – 80 g 2 weeks 7 – 8 ml ?? feeds per day
180 – 200 g 4 weeks 18 – 20 ml ?? feeds per day
600 – 650 g 7 weeks weaning 60 – 65 g ?? feeds per day

Theoretically, kits may be fed up to 10% body weight per day, depending on appetite
The table above is a ROUGH guide, each individual is different
Never feed an animal so much fluid that its tummy becomes hard and distended

If very young, especially if eyes still closed, feed 2-3 hourly, through the day and 4hourly during the night ??
If older and lively feed every 4hrs during the day, last feed 10 pm, first feed 5 or 6 am??
If they are unwilling to wake up and feed, extend the gap between feeds by ½ hour

Keep feeding utensils in a deep bowl of sterilising solution e.g. Milton
Use clean feeding utensils for each feed
After use, dismantle feeding equipment and clean thoroughly in warm soapy water, rinse, then replace in the sterilising bowl
Rinse utensils before each feed

Rehabilitation of wildlife casualties requires a licence and a large investment of time and resources. It is mainly in the animal’s best interest to transfer it to an appropriately trained and equipped individual/organisation as soon as possible.

Before attempting to capture a wildlife casualty:

  • Observe, assess, discuss, then decide whether intervention is appropriate
  • All wild animals can potentially transmit disease and inflict serious injuries
  • Remember, your own safety is of paramount importance

Escape artists!, can dig and squeeze through TINY gaps
Ideally outdoor run with nest box:

  • Solid sides e.g. brick, metal, to a height of 1metre then weldmesh fencing above that to head height. Mesh or concrete floor
  • Or ideally 6 sided galvanised heavy duty weldmesh enclosure (see photo below)
Dog run Dog run

Include one Nest Box per pine marten approx 1.5 meters above ground level for shelter (designs available on Vincent Wildlife Trust website)
Straw or hay for bedding
Fresh water for drinking
Big leafy branches for hiding, enrichment, and to reduce stress
Located in quiet area away from domestic pets


FeedingA wide variety of food is best for optimal health and nutrition. Fruits, unsalted nuts, berries, quail, day old chicks, mice, rabbit and chicken can be used
Supplements can be inserted into the food as required
Heavy shallow bowl of drinking waterIf feeding quail give one and a half per day, a raw egg and some fruit and nuts
If feeding chicks give between 5 – 6 with the above egg, fruit and nutsAdult martens can eat about 140-160g food per night: about 10% of body weightOnce in the morning and once in the afternoon. Scatter feeding can improve environment enrichment.
Whiting in fishbox

Hand-rearing should not be undertaken unless:


(Email <> if you acquire an orphan, you will be put in touch with other orphan carers)

  • The kit will be kept as wild as possible
  • Suitable accommodation facilities will be provided
  • It is understood that it will require care until it is 4-6 months of age
  • It is understood that rearing and successful release of a pine marten requires considerable expertise, money and specialised pre-release accommodation

Extra info for long term husbandry:

Housing – kit
Most importantly- warmth and quiet
Keep indoors, away from children and domestic animals
Use a sturdy pet carrier/ puppy crate until they are old enough that they start moving around
Once they’re feeding for themselves and lively move to outdoor accommodation

If eyes are still closed, or very sick, the kit needs to be kept warm; ideally in a container with an ambient temp of roughly 25˚C
Beware overheating can also kill – monitor carefullyWeight
When young and bottle feeding weigh daily
Weigh at the same time each day
Weight loss or static weight can be an early indicator of underlying problems
Otter in incubator
© Chelsea Collins

Young kits can be weighted on a digital kitchen scales
Older kits and adults can be placed into a pillow case and the pillow case hung on a spring loaded scales to get body weight

Development in the wild
Birth: March/April, blind and deaf, whitish fur, 30g
2-3 weeks: start crawling
5-6 weeks: eyes open
7 weeks: deciduous teeth erupted, weaning, increasing activity levels
8 weeks: eating solids
12 weeks: out of den and very active. full adult coat, middle of June
4 months: permanent dentition erupts, leave nest late June/early July
6 months: fully independent, disperse in autumn

Sexual maturity: 2-3yrs
Mating July-August
Delayed implantation 5-7 months
Active gestation following implantation 30 days

Rehydration solution – Lectade or equivalent
Ideally a half and half mixture of ‘Multimilk’ and ‘Milk Matrix 30/55’
Canine milk replacement e.g. Esbilac or Lactol


  • Syringe with teat for very young kits
  • Royal canin puppy/kitten nursing bottle

At aprox 7 weeks, when lively and teeth have come through
Encourage to drink from bowl, once kit learns, always keep fresh water available
When teeth appear, introduce small pieces of raw minced chicken/rabbit/meat
Over the course of several weeks, gradually reduce milk formula and increase solids
Finally feed only meat/fruit/solids

Routine records should be maintained of daily weight, times of each feed, quantities of food consumed, urine/faeces production and general condition/demeanour

Easily done, potentially prevent release
Always try and rear more than one of a species together (not doing so will produce abnormal and dangerous behaviour)
Keep away from smells and noises of companion and domestic animals

Potential problem
Odd behaviour has been recorded in pine martens living in captivity such as males attempting to mate with individuals of the same sex. This may be linked with stress of captive life.
Stereotypical behaviours can occur in animals living in captivity over a prolonged period of time. Enrichment can reduce onset of such behaviours
Otter buster collar


Always seek advice from specialist organisations with knowledge of suitable release sites/habitat


Careful assessment and appropriate health checks should be carried out prior to release, as to the risks of released animals introducing new diseases into the wild population/environment.

Release criteria/considerations
Need to be wild – scared of humans, domestic animals and any other natural predators
Must be physically fit, mentally sound, stable body weight for over 7 days
Can’t be released if underweight, unable to recognise/eat normal diet etc
Must be of an appropriate weight for the age, sex, and time of year for the species
Do not release in winter unless it has sufficient body weight to cope with the cold
Ideally return to original location unless dangerous or unsuitable
Release away from roads, species specific predators, areas where they could cause damage
Consider natural history of the animal and the location of local wild groups of these animals
Release during a period of favourable weather.
Ideally identify animal in some way e.g. microchip/tag, for post release monitoring/identification

Otter buster collar Otter buster collar
sedated marten with VHF collar

Preferred habitat
mainly found in coniferous or deciduous woodland or scrub with good ground cover


HARD RELEASE (direct release)

Hard release technique
The animal is simply allowed to exit a transport container with no further care or feed provision.

Hard release candidates
Hard release technique only suitable if animal rescued as an adult and only if in captivity for short period of time, and only if to be released where originally found.

Release timing
Release adults as soon as possible

Species specific considerations
Release habitat must have an adequate food supply to accommodate successive groups of pine martens over several years.
Ensure area not susceptible to pollution problems.
Avoid conflict areas e.g. farms/game keepers
Investigate acceptance of the release by landowners/game keepers
Within a sub-optimal pine marten population

Ideally return to exact location animal was rescued
Open carrying cage and let animal leave in its own time
Release at dusk


SOFT RELEASE (gentle or gradual release)
Kits (sometimes adults)

Soft release technique
Soft release aims to slowly reintroduce the animal to the wild while still in a comfort zone e.g. cage it was reared in, and allow the animal to leave the cage once confident and independent.
It involves continuing to care for animals at the release site, and aims to compensate for difficulties of newly released animals finding food and shelter in a new environment.

Soft release candidates
Essential release method for hand reared animals.
If more than one young animal in care, if practicable, try to form a release group.
Release group – try to have mixed genders, appropriately matched age group.
Also suitable for adults that have been in care for a long period of time, or animals that cannot be released back to where they were found and so have to establish a new territory.

Release timing
When food is abundant – summer/autumn
When kit is fully independent – 5-6 months
As SOON as adult is fully recovered

Species specific considerations
Release habitat must have an adequate food supply to accommodate successive groups of pine martens over several years
Ensure area not susceptible to pollution problems
Avoid conflict areas farms/game keepers
Investigate acceptance of the release by landowners/game keepers
Within a sub-optimal pine marten population

Temporary cage placed in release location
Their own familiar sleeping box/artificial nest box placed within caged area, kit provided with water and food at dusk, in the enclosure, for 2-4 weeks.
Animal fed only natural foods it will come across in the wild
Cage opened one evening and left in-situ for animal to come and go until it feels confident enough not to return.
Food provided, decreasing in quantity, until the animal no longer returns
Soft release may take a few days – a few weeks

Otter buster collar Otter buster collar


“The Minister may grant a licence to a person to have in possession, for a reasonable period of time —

  • an injured or disabled protected wild animal, or
  • one or more than one dependent young of a protected wild animal which is orphaned, with the intention of tending and later releasing such animal or young back into the wild when and only when such animal or young, as the case may be, is no longer injured, disabled or dependent, or
  • to retain possession of a protected wild animal, that for reasons of disability or for other reasons deemed reasonable by the Minister, would, if released, be unlikely to survive unaided in the wild.”

*Compulsory licence details at end of document*



Irish Wildlife Act 1976 and Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000 – protected species
Berne Convention, Appendix 3 – requires strict protection
EU Habitats Directive, Annex 2 and 4 – of European interest
IUCN Red List least concern
Wildlife (N.I.) Order of 1985 – protected species
Irish Red Data book – Least concern
Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) and the Environmental Protection Act – full protection

The Minister may grant a licence to capture or kill for educational, scientific or other purposes

May not be hunted or killed or their breeding places disturbed

Rescue and Rehabilitation
Due to their status as a protected species, a *licence MUST be applied for to the NPWS ‘to possess/retain an injured or disabled wild animal

Subject to the conditions set out in the licence provided for the possession/retention of the wild animal

Report suspicious activities or equipment to the NPWS Conservation Ranger (see CONTACTS page) 

* For licence application form for the possession/ retention of a wild animal – click HERE

Post to the address below OR email to

Wildlife Licensing Unit,
National Parks and Wildlife Service,
Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht,
7 Ely Place,
Dublin 2.
Phone: (01) 888 3242

This legislation section is not intended to cover all aspect of legislation associated with this particular wildlife species, in all instances, the current legislation and appropriate statutory bodies should be consulted

Canine distemper virus

Clinical Signs – fever, appetite loss, congested sinuses, bloody diarrhoea
Diagnosis – blood sample
Treatment – fluids then antibiotics and B vitamins
Comments – virus shed in urine faeces and saliva, viable up to 6mths

  • Road Traffic Accident

Clinical Signs – commonly fractures, sometimes ruptured diaphragms, livers or spleens, in-coordination, disorientation, temporary blindness
Diagnosis – examination and radiographs; especially neck region
Treatment – treat as for shock, temporary splint and pain relief, surgery once stabilised
Comments – euthanize if amputation required. Remove metalwork before release

© Offaly SPCA
  • Bite wounds

Clinical Signs – heat, swelling, pain, puncture wound or laceration, abscess.
Diagnosis – clinical signs or culture
Treatment – if abscess; drain and treat as open abscess. Fluids as for shock. Broad spectrum antibiotics. Corticosteroids for endotoxaemia. Regular flushing of wound
Fresh open clean woundsclip, clean and suture if necessary. Use subcuticular suturing and absorbable suture material
Comments – likely to be infected, possibly septicaemic

  • Snare injuries

Clinical Signs – injury to the limb, chipped teeth from chewing at it, underlying tissue damage
Diagnosis – ligature marks, snare attached, history
Treatment –remove snare under GA. Analgesics and antibiotics. Aggressive fluid therapy
Comments – keep for at least 7 days to monitor for pressure necrosis or self mutilation

  • Ticks (Ixodes hexagonus) Fleas and Lice

Clinical Signs – visual identification
Diagnosis – clinical signs
Treatment – removal
Comments – often on the neck and behind the ears, lice around groin and head

  • Demodex mites

Clinical Signs – dry alopecia and thickening of the skin or red, pustules and wrinkling of the skin
Diagnosis – clinical signs, microscopy
Treatment – ivermectin along with improved nutrition and addressing any possible underlying immune system-suppressing diseases and any secondary bacterial infections
Comments – demodicodic lesions are found on the face, muzzle, forelimbs and periorbital regions

  • Nematode – Skrjabingylus nasicola

Clinical Signs – in heavy infections, subadult worms may invade the brain and cause neurologic signs, including paralysis
Diagnosis – mainly post mortem
Treatment – nematicides
Comments – larvae acquired from terrestrial snails and slugs, can eventually penetrate the animal’s skull (cribriform plate)

  • Cryptosporidiosis

Clinical Signs – acute, watery, and non-bloody diarrhoea
Diagnosis – serological tests and microscopic evaluation of oocysts in faeces
Treatment – supportive therapy such as IV fluids
Comments – cryptospondium parvum infection is generally self-limiting

  • Dental disease

Clinical Signs – inflamed, bleeding gums, mouth pain, emaciation, bad breath, drooling
Diagnosis – clinical signs
Treatment – symptomatic
Comments – with all animals, mouth should routinely be checked. Cannot be released if damage results in canines needing removal

  • Hydrocephalus

Clinical Signs – rounded cranium, in coordination
Diagnosis – clinical signs, radiography
Treatment – none
Comments – in kits, euthanasia recommended

  • Hypothermia

Clinical Signs – lethargy, temperature below 37.5˚C
Diagnosis – abnormally low temperature
Treatment – warm up slowly and monitor carefully to prevent hyperthermia
Comments – common due to inactivity if ill/injured

  • Orphan

Clinical Signs – do not normally leave the den until after 12wks of age, should be aprox 1kg at this age. Orphan kits mainly found end May, start June
Diagnosis – alone above ground before mid/end June weighing less than 1kg
Treatment – see husbandry section for kit on rehabilitators page
Comments – definatly orphaned if you are able to catch it! or as in scenario below

otter in snare snare
© Offaly SPCA
© Offaly SPCA



  • No quality of life when recovered
  • Amputation necessary
  • Hydrocephalus


  • Pentobarbital sodium


  • Deep sedation then IP injection

Drugs & Dosages
SC between shoulder blades
IM quadriceps or lumbar
IO femoral marrow cavity
IP posterior to umbilicus, needle angled cranially
IV jugular, cephalic
PO in food
Temperature (°C) 37
Pulse rate (beats per minute)
Respiratory rate (breaths per minute)


Care with hygiene handling all wildlife
Ideally observe discreetly before examination; wildlife hide injuries
Sedation sometimes the only way of examining adult pine marten, use crush cage if necessaryAlways muzzle when handling, even after sedation or if animal appears to be unconscious
Muzzling difficult due to short snout, temporary tape muzzle more appropriate
Sharp front claws must be restrained
Try not to change grip when handling
otter handling
© Offaly SPCA


  • Weigh
  • Warm up
  • If baby pine marten; stimulate to urinate/defecate
  • Fluids
  • Drugs

RTA casualties will often be suffering volume related shock, treat as below


  • Warmth (stop animal loosing heat, warm slowly)
  • IV fluids – Hartmann’s or Haemaccel
  • Oxygen as required
  • Analgesia (if head trauma do not use buprenorphine, finadyne or carprofen)

Antibiotics if appropriate
After treatment for shock, attend to conditions that are life threatening or could worsen over 24hrs

Assess every few hours. As soon as stable, examine thoroughly, and decide on a treatment plan or euthanise as appropriate