Print Posted By Lost in France on 29 Sep 2007 in Wildlife - Wildlife and nature in France

Stone Martens or La Fouine

The Stone Marten or fouine

Smart, cute and as mischievous as a weasel the Stone or Beech Marten (Martes foina) is widespread across France. A close cousin of the Pine Marten the Stone Marten is very similar but slightly smaller in size measuring 40 - 50cm in body length with a tail of between 20 - 30 cm. The easiest way to distinguish between the two is by their creamy white bibs, in the Stone or Beech Martin the bib or collar is more fork shaped like an upside down V.

Generally nocturnal the Stone Marten is much less shy than the Pine Marten and can be found in close proximity to humans occasionally completely unnoticed, but they are commonly discovered over wintering in the attics of buildings sometimes even in small spaces between the roof and plasterboard ceiling, particularly in France. Sometimes house owners are awakened at night to their loud chattering and crashing around - for such a small creature they can make a lot of noise!

Apart from invading your loft the Stone Martens have a habit of crawling inside the warm engine housing of motor cars and are occasionally responsible for chewing through ignition cables and coolant hoses.

Diet

If you are unfortunate enough to have Stone Martens take up residence in your loft then the good news is that they are fierce and intrepid predators and will happily eat mice!

Apart from eating mice their diet includes other small mammals, rodents, fruit and eggs which they eat by making a small incision in the shell with their sharp teeth allowing them to suck the yolk out. They have been known to raid chicken pens and rabbit hutches and will often store any excess food they find for a later date.

Breeding

The skull of a Stone Marten

Martens are highly territorial animals and mostly solitary outside of the breeding season which is between June and August. The male Stone Marten will try to breed with any female that he finds inside his territory during this time, often he will woo a female Marten by making a soft cooing sound, their courtship and mating can last up to an hour.

After mating has taken place there is a delayed implantation of the embryo until early the following spring with a litter of up to 4 young born in March or April.

The young Stone Martens are fully weaned after 8 weeks but will usually stay with their mother for the rest of the Summer while she teaches them to hunt and fend for themselves.

Lifespan

In the wild Stone Martens live to about 3 years but in captivity they have been known to live for more than 18 years.

Help! The Fouine are in my loft

There are many methods you can employ to remove unwanted Stone Martens but the kindest and simplest way to deter or evict these beautiful creatures is to spread a liberal quantity of good old fashioned mothballs in the area that they have inhabited, the poor old Fouine can't stand the smell and will often move out straight away.

French for the Stone Marten

In France the Stone Marten is known as La fouine - which translates as the long pitchfork
 

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