Friday, 29 June 2012

Pine Martens Together

It is that time of year again when we have to think about putting our pine martens together in the hope that they may breed. Pine martens are the only mammal we haven't successfully bred yet, and are well known for being difficult to breed in captivity.

Having had Bonnie and Clyde together for the last three years with no kits, many of you know I was planning on putting our younger male, Hamish, with Bonnie this year. Well, unfortunately time has raced away and I have left it a little late to safely put those two together, so I have moved on to plan B...

Once again, Clyde will be in with Bonnie, a safe match I don't have to worry about, and Clyde gets his one last bite at the cherry so to speak. If once again Bonnie doesn't have young, then Hamish will be introduced next year to hopefully spice things up and successfully mate with her. In the mean time, also this Summer, we will attempt to introduce Hamish with Buttons. He has had the run over her enclosure for the past few months, and they have met several times through the wire, so hopefully they will settle together for the mating period and we will have two chance of young next year.

The breeding season for pine martens is during July/August, when the female will only come into season for a short period. Therefore we have to have the pair together for these two months to catch this window. Once mated, or the end of August, we will separate them to avoid the risk of fighting.

Fingers crossed the rough mating will not go too far, and they will settle for long enough to tolerate each other and mate. The fingers crossed once more until next year, as pine martens have delayed implantation and so we will not know whether the females have successfully mated until Spring next year when they will be due.

It is no secret that I have a soft spot for the pine marten, and so I am sure you appreciate this time of year is always both exciting yet nerve racking at the same time. I will probably be around the marten enclosures for most of the weekend to make sure things are OK, and then will have another long wait in the hope that we have baby pine martens next year.

I will update you on their progress over the Summer, and more pine marten news to follow soon regarding their wild status...

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