Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Pine Martens Together

It is that time of year again when we have another go at breeding our pine martens. Many of you already know that I have a particular soft spot for the pine marten, and so it is with much frustration that we have yet to successfully breed them here at the Centre.

We have had success with all other British mammals we have kept here in the past, but pine marten kits still elude us. It is well known that they are difficult animals to breed, but other centres have had success in the past, and with us having pairs together for the last three or four breeding seasons (a success in its self, with many not getting on and fighting with each other) I am sure it is only a matter of time.

At the end of last week I once again introduced Clyde in with Bonnie for the next two and a half months in the hope that they will mate.

It was a dilemma for me whether to continue with this pairing, or introduce our other male, Hamish, with Bonnie for something different. Certainly, if we continue to fail every year we will have to try something different... but having spoken to others who have bred these animals in the past, many seemed to suggest that if we have a pair that we can introduce with each other each year with relatively few problems, then we should stick with that and hope that in time we will be successful.

It seems to me that over the last three breeding seasons they were together, they were getting closer to breeding... and I think they mated the last two seasons they were together, so fingers crossed for third time lucky!

The most frustrating thing of all is the wait to see if we have been successful. With a delayed implantation, we won't see if Bonnie becomes pregnant until early next year! I have heard that even other centres who have had success, still often don't breed them every year, so it does seem a little luck is needed too.

My next decision is whether to introduce Hamish with our other female, Buttons, in a weeks time... it seems silly not too if we have that potential pairing, but then Buttons is quite old now, and Hamish is a vicious little thing... often trying to square up with the others through the wire divides of their run system. Of course, I will update you of things if and when it happens.

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