Loch Lomond’s lucky pine martens

Looking for pine martens on the shores of Loch Lomond

Wildlife watchers should keep a lookout for pine martens on the shores of Loch Lomond. These small mammals inhabit the local woodlands and are associated with good luck. Indeed, you’re very lucky to spot a pine marten as they are rare and usually only come out at night. But the good news is, their numbers are on the rise.

Pine marten on a branch
The pine marten is nocturnal and notoriously hard to spot

How to recognise a pine marten

The pine marten is a small mammal, about the size of a cat. It is related to the weasel, stoat and polecat. It has brown fur with a cream patch on its throat and chest, a long body, rounded ears and a bushy tail.

Where and when to spot a pine marten

These nocturnal creatures are mostly found in wooded areas at night. They are most active in the summertime and you might also spot them in the early morning or late evening. They like peanuts and will sometimes visit wildlife feeding stations, for example at the RSPB Loch Lomond nature reserve in Gartocharn or the Lodge Forest Visitor Centre in Aberfoyle.

Two pine marten kits
Baby pine martens are called kits

Pine marten facts and figures

Pine martens are solitary creatures, only coming together in the summer to breed. As their name suggests, they are often found in pine forests, where they make dens in the tree cavities. They are very territorial, defending large areas of forest up to 25km2. They are omnivores, which means they eat both meat and plants. Their varied diet includes small mammals such as voles, squirrels and mice, small birds, insects, berries and nuts. They are good climbers and can get high into the trees to look for prey, leaping up to 4 metres between branches.

Pine martens and red squirrels

Interestingly, although a predator of the squirrel, pine martens actually help to protect populations of endangered red squirrels. This is because pine martens find grey squirrels easier to catch than reds. By keeping the numbers of invasive grey squirrels down, this allows the native reds to thrive. So where you find pine martens, you are likely to spot red squirrels too.

Red squirrel eating a nut
The red squirrel and pine marten coexist in Scotland’s forests

Find out more about our local wildlife here. We are always curious to see which animals our guests manage to spot during a stay with us at Loch Lomond Waterfront. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and share your wildlife pictures with us.

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