Our native pine marten, the non-native American mink and the feral ferret are all related and belong to the Family Mustelidae. They are known as mustelids.
All three animals have a long thin body, which enables them to follow their prey down small tunnels and burrows and, in the case of the pine marten, to gain access to buildings or pens through small openings in rotted timbers or wire netting.
They can be difficult to distinguish from each other, especially when, as is usually the case, they are seen only briefly and in poor light.
Pine marten and other similar animals
|Features||Pine marten||American mink||Feral ferret|
|Fur colour||Chestnut brown||Uniform brown or black||Dark guard (outer) hairs with creamy underfur|
|Size||Domestic cat-sized||Smaller than a|
|Similar to mink|
|Ears||Rounded and fringed|
with pale fur
|Uniform dark colour||Rounded and pale
|Throat markings||Obvious bib of creamy|
yellow or orange
|No distinct bib, but may|
have patches of white on
|Tail||Long and very bushy||Slightly bushy||Slightly bushy|
|Habitat||Woodland||Aquatic||Lowland agricultural landscapes, but flexible in habitat use|
Photo credits: Pine marten (Bill Cuthbert); American mink (Henry Schofield); Feral ferret (Selbe)