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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 1:21 EDT

Japanese Marten, Martes melampus

The Japanese marten (Martes melampus) is a mammal that is native to Japan. Its native range includes Kyushu, Shikoku, Awaji, and Honshu and it has been introduced into Sado Island, Tsushima Island, and Hokkaido. It prefers a habitat within forests, but it can be found in human populated areas with abundant vegetation. It holds three recognized subspecies.

The Japanese marten can reach an average length of one and half feet, with a tail length of about eight inches and a weight of up to about three pounds. Males are typically larger than females. Its fur can be dark brown to yellow in color with cream fur occurring on the neck. Both female and male Japanese martens hold territories of variable sizes. These territories are dependent upon food availability. Dens typically occur in hollow trees or in the ground. The diet of this species consists of many things including fish, reptiles, birds, fruits, insects, seeds, and small mammals.

In Tushima, the Japanese marten was once threatened by habitat destruction, but it is now growing in number in that area. Although the species is common throughout its range, habitat destruction could become a major threat. The Japanese marten appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Least Concern.”

Image Caption: A Japanese Marten at Tanzawa in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. Credit: lvovl2 / Wikipedia  (CC BY 2.0)

Japanese Marten Martes melampus