Amazing footage shows elusive pine marten mum and tiny kits inside their den


AMAZING video shows a pine marten mother snuggled up with her kits inside their den.

The elusive creatures are rarely seen in the wild so it is all the more remarkable to get footage of the mother and her three screeching kits within their den.

The mum, known as Piney, is seen picking up the kits in her mouth and moving them one-by-one to a different den.

Pine martens are renowned as ferocious and determined predators but the video, posted by Facebook page The Pine Marten Diaries, shows a softer side.

In one clip the two-week-old kits have been waiting for their mum to return with food for four hours.

And when she does she immediately licks and soothes them, showing a rarely-seen affectionate side.

The kits are now three weeks old and the The Pine Marten Diaries have been tracking the expectant mother since before they were born on March 26.

The den boxes, thought to be located in the Scottish Highlands, are only around 100 meters apart – but the anxious mum has been frequently moving the kits between them.

The population of pine marten are on the up in Scotland after woodland clearances and predator control pushed them near to extinction in 1915.

They are still rare in England and Wales, with pine marten carrying the title of Britain’s second rarest carnivore – after the wildcat.

In the space of two weeks, the den camera captured the pine marten mum moving the kits eight times between three different den boxes.

The Pine Marten Diaries posted a clip of the mother moving the kits, which has been viewed 1,400 times, with the caption: “And back to the other box.

“Piney decided to move back to the other box at around 14:30 on the 9th April 2018.

“Here seen bringing the third kit into the box at 14:50. This is the eighth time she has moved the kits between three den sites since giving birth on the 26th March.”

A Scottish pine marten (C) Flickpicpete

Social media users were concerned by Piney’s restlessness, but the page added: “There is no indication that she has been disturbed.

“The two boxes are 100m or so apart in woodland. The third den site is maybe in an outbuilding near to one of the boxes.”

The clip begins with the two of the pine marten kits cuddling and making high pitched noises in the corner of one of the den boxes, surrounded by wood shavings.

Eventually, the mother pine marten returns – with the third kit wedged firmly in her mouth.

She drops the kit on the ground of the box with the other two, who instantly begin squealing with excitement at their mother’s return.

Piney instantly begins to roll around with her new children, grabbing one and pulling it onto her stomach for a quick groom – as the other two begin to clamber onto her.

Two of the playful kits, who are barely two weeks old at this point, are on top of their mother while she holds them close to feed – while the third is sitting off to the side.

Piney makes sure not to leave the third kit out, using her mouth to grab it and pull it onto her too.

A rare intimate moment between the elusive pine marten and her kits

She then gently pushes the kit down to her stomach to feed.

On social media, Gareth Ventress said: “This is fascinating, I wonder how typical her behaviour is? I guess we don’t have enough data to know.”

Kate MacRae asked: “I wonder why she is so unsettled?”

Shirley Martin added: “They are looking really good.”

In 2015 twenty pine martens were taken from Forestry Commission Scotland land under licence from the Scottish Natural Heritage and relocated to Wales – where they were on the verge of extinction.

Of the ten female pine martens were taken to Wales, at least three of them gave birth a year later.

With a further 20 Scottish pine martens moved to the area in autumn 2016, it is hoped that the population will become self-sustaining and spread across the border into England.