AskDefine | Define marten

Dictionary Definition

marten n : agile slender-bodied arboreal mustelids somewhat larger than weasels [syn: marten cat]

User Contributed Dictionary





  1. Any carnivorous mammal of the genus Martes in the family Mustelidae.



Extensive Definition

For the Wiltshire village see Marten, Wiltshire. For the town in Bulgaria, see Marten, Bulgaria.
The Martens constitute the genus Martes within the subfamily Mustelinae, in family Mustelidae. They are slender, agile, animals, adapted to living in taigas, and are found in coniferous and northern deciduous forests across the northern hemisphere. They have bushy tails, and large paws with partially retractile claws. The fur varies from yellowish to dark brown, depending on the species, and, in many cases, is valued by fur trappers. Martens are carnivorous animals related to wolverines, minks and weasels. Their diet consists of squirrels, mice, rabbits, birds, fish, insects, and eggs, and they will also eat fruit and nuts when these are readily available.
They are solitary animals, meeting only to breed in late spring or early summer. Litters of up to five blind and near-naked kits are born in early Spring. They are weaned after around two months, and leave the mother to fend for themselves at about three to four months of age.
Recent DNA research has shown that the genus Martes is in fact polyphyletic, placing Martes pennanti and Martes americana outside the genus and allying it with Eira and Gulo, to form a new New World clade. The genus first evolved up to seven million years ago, during the Pliocene.


The word "marten" is of original Germanic origin. The Modern English "marten" comes from the Middle English "martryn", in turn derived from the Anglo-French "martrine" and Old French "martre". (Compare to French "martes".)
The word for marten in Macedonian, Serbian, Polish, Slovene as well as Croatian is "kuna" and this word has been adopted as the name of the national currency of Croatia.


In Popular Culture


marten in Aragonese: Fuina
marten in Catalan: Mart (carnívor)
marten in German: Echte Marder
marten in Esperanto: Marteso
marten in French: Martes
marten in Ido: Martro
marten in Italian: Martes
marten in Hebrew: דלק (חיה)
marten in Croatian: kune
marten in Lithuanian: Kiaunės
marten in Dutch: Marters
marten in Japanese: テン
marten in Polish: Martes
marten in Portuguese: Marta (animal)
marten in Russian: Куницы
marten in Serbian: Куна
marten in Spanish: Marta (mamífero)
marten in Finnish: Näätä
marten in Swedish: Mårdar
marten in Turkish: Sansar
marten in Chinese: 貂屬
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