The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 27 - 3/2/00
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
After getting our Silver Fox raising all settled down, we had a lot of mink pens that were not in use and decided to try our luck at raising Pine Marten. No one seemed to know how to raise them but we were able to finally find an old book written in Canada that was printed about 1920. With what information was in it, and what we had learned from raising mink, we thought we could make things work. We had Mink Pellet feed available to us from the Fur Farmers Co-op out of Salt Lake City, and they had their feed down to a science. They had four kinds of pellets - Maintenance, Grow-Fur, Reproduction and Lactation - that were fed at different times of the year, according to season.
The Pine Marten Breeding cycle is quite a bit different from the mink, who bred in March and had their kits in about the middle of May, some colors having a different gestation period, but not much different.
Mother Nature rigged the marten up a little different and they have what is called a "Delayed Implantation." A few other animals propagate this way also. The marten breed in July and August, but the eggs in the female are not fertilized until about March. The young ones are born about May. This works real good in the wild, as in the summer months they can cover a lot of country to find a mate, and this helps to cut down interbreeding. The young ones are born when there is a lot of natural feed, in the spring and summer months. The litter size was usually 4-6 kits.
We built their pens a lot larger than the mink pens and had some runways and trap doors to either let in or separate the males from the females at the proper time. Our biggest problem was keeping the males from killing the females and this required a lot of watching on our part. Even then it happened pretty regular when they were put together at breeding time.
We kept ten pairs to work with but did not have much success with them. We had one female that was evidently bred before we caught her in a live trap and the next spring she presented us with five kittens. They were real cute and we immediately put her on Lactation pellets to help her make more milk and water was kept in the pens at all times. They got by real good for a couple of weeks then one morning, looking in the next box, there were only three little ones. She had eaten two of then and one of the remaining three had his tail chewed completely off. We took the three that were left and started raising them in a pen in the garage.
They had nice sharp teeth by this time and would chew the end of all the nipples on our feeding bottles, so we started making them a thin gruel out of Lactation Pellets and dried milk. They would slurp it up with gusts and sounded almost like a small vacuum cleaner.
We named them Hoover, Kirby, and Stub. They tamed down real good, and while playing on the floor, little Stubby, the one with his tail eaten off, would slide up and down my arm, dragging his rear end and it was a while before I realized he was rubbing his scent on my arm.
Martens have a pair of scent glands on their rear end like a skunk and it smell faintly the same, so this part of the playing game came to a halt.
To Be Continued . . .
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