Martens have attitude! Like the boots of the same name, they have a reputation to live up to that has ‘if you see me comin’ better step aside!’ written all over them. Weighing in at 21 inches and three and a half pounds they are the equivalent of a gang of skinheads on speed!

skinheadsdon’t make eye-contact!

Just as your average skinhead is some mother’s son, so Martes foina – the Beech or Stone or White Breasted Marten (thanks for the heads-up, John) has its admirers too – J and me, for a start! We have a family of them living somewhere nearby and they visit us every night. Actually, it would be more accurate to describe their visits as visitations because we have never actually seen them!

We became aware a few years ago that something or other was raiding J’s compost bins and, as well as eating a lot of the stuff, was lining things like half-oranges, egg shells and coffee filters along the wall. An infra-red, motion detecting night camera soon had the culprits in the frame.

Over time their brazen kleptomania has had them doing Olympic-style gymnastics to get at the food on our bird tables amongst other things. (click here for other videos of these rogues) Lately, we have been awoken in the dead of night by the sound of burglars throwing stuff about downstairs. We’d come down to a scene that has become typical of the way that the ‘modern’, degenerate young thief doesn’t just nick the family silver but chucks stuff about before crapping in the middle of the carpet or sofa!

pine marten crapbiologists tell this is ‘spraint’ – territorial marking – I call it mindless vandalism!

. . and this is the culprit!

beech marten

‘Fagin’ aka ‘One -Eye’ aka Beech/Stone/White Breasted Marten – Martes foina (leader of this gang of four or five tow-rags)


together with the apprentices The Artful Dodger and Charley Bates

Pine Marten

the better-known European Pine Marten – Martes martes (stunning photo from

beech marten 3the SAS in action at the Iranian Embassy siege (Martes foina)

cap_badge_of_sasWith semi-retractable claws like a cat and a set of dentures that owes its lineage to Tyrannosaurus rex these little cuties are the SAS of the animal kingdom and, just like the real thing, it is not a good idea to underestimate what you are dealing with – unlike a certain Swiss footballer by the name of Loris Benito who, to protect him from ridicule, shall remain nameless . . .


pine attack


The score was 1-0 after injury time – ‘Who Dares Wins’? – nah! ‘Who Dares Is Stupid’!

Finally, here’s a bit of video I’ve strung together of our pitiful attempt to distract the vandals:

Things That Go Bump v3.0.2 from Alan Fenn on Vimeo.

Alan Fenn, Okçular Köyü

18 thoughts on “Martens

  1. They’re bigger than I thought. But every inch as adorable! Reminds me of the leather ball my parents hung in the horses’ stalls to entertain them.

    1. they really are a delight to have around – naughty but very nice – like some of your creations 😀

  2. Alan, It’s a terrible thing that those things are the absolutely cutest things ever!! You know, when we lived in Cambridge, we had possums, racoons, skunks – we loved them all. You are so, so lucky that you have such lovely creatures that live around you. Martens forever! xo J and M

  3. Hi Alan. They are just sooooo! cute. Really love them. Am here in Dalyan but the rain and the mud is keeping me from walking the valley. Home Tuesday so better luck next time. Mary

    1. . . that’s rotten luck for you – it’s been a pretty wet winter (which is great for the farmers and the reservoirs). see you next time

  4. Great It’s opened up first time to night !!!!!! I see what you mean by being little vandals. I loved your video and yes they really are very cute, and entertaining if you want to stay up all night.

    1. Hi Annie, had a slight glitch when publishing and fortunately twigged what had happened. Indeed, they are cute, which I understand is another word for little so……

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