the cutest killer

With their small bodies, short noses, pert ears, and bright, brown button eyes, there is no doubt that American Martens (a member of the weasel family about the size of a mink) are cute…

american-marten

Cute enough to be a pet?

But these feisty little hunters will give chase to Red Squirrels, mice of all sorts, even Snowshoe Hares, and they hunt both day and night, depending on season and weather, being active as much as 60% of the day in the summer.  They are also important seed dispersers of the fruits that pass through their digestive tracts, some of which (e.g., Alaskan blueberry and huckleberry) will germinate far more easily having been treated with a little Marten stomach acid first.

american-marten

A tree perch is a great place from which to scope out this marten’s next meal.

american-marten

Hmm…what shall it be…

eastern-chipmunk-

How about a nice plump chipmunk?

Although Wikipedia doesn’t mention chipmunks as possible prey of martens, they are rather slow moving, comparatively easy to catch, and also rather common in the birch-balsam fir forest in northeastern Minnesota that Martens also inhabit.

eastern-chipmunk-

Sitting out in the open where some furtive predator (like that cutest killer, the American Marten) can see it might just be a fatal mistake.

eastern-chipmunk-

Activity like this, with two chipmunks chasing each other, and running around on the asphalt walking path must make them very attractive to hunters like the marten.

eastern-chipmunk-

Run away little chipmunk…

All photos by Steve Chaplin, who found the Marten by accident while trying to photograph a Ruffed Grouse in Grand Portage State Park in the northeastern most corner of Minnesota, while I was busy photographing waterfalls.

5 thoughts on “the cutest killer

  1. Thank you, Sue. Enjoy your posts very much. Spotted a marten in the spring crossing the road on Vadnais Blvd. between the two lakes.

    • Thanks to my husband’s eagle eye for these photos. Surprising though, because lots of people had walking by on the trail before he got there, and I assume the little marten just sat tight in his tree waiting for them to pass.

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