Japanese Marten

I was very lucky today! I was standing stock still leaning against a tree, trying to take a photo of a woodpecker, when I heard a rustling in the ferns nearby… It was a Japanese marten (ten) and it hadn’t noticed me. The sound of the camera shutter made it a bit nervous and it looked in my direction, eventually sneaking off into the brush. I’m happy to have been able to watch it for a few minutes, but I wish my camera was a bit quieter! To be honest, at the time I thought I was watching a weasel (see my post here), but I realized later that it was far too big. After a bit of research on the internet, I found some pictures that suggested it was in fact a marten (see here).

There’s lots of interesting information about the Japanese marten on the Animal Diversity Web run by the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology.

(Added 14th April): Thanks to Dr. Masatoshi Yasuda for checking my identification. He works in the Forest Zoology Laboratory, Kyushu Research Center, Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute.


Family: Mustelidae (badgers, otters, weasels, and relatives)
Subfamily: Mustelinae (martens, weasels, wolverines, and relatives)

Japanese marten = ten
Martes melampus

Location: Near Hyoutan Pond (map)

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5 Responses to Japanese Marten

  1. cyndi says:

    hello! i’m so happy i’ve found your website. i live in western tokyo and am homeschooling my two young boys. we’ve been doing loads of nature study, but i’ve had such a hard time identifying most of the plants, animals…that we come across.
    your site will be a valuable resource for us. i was also wondering if you can recommend a good field guide fro nature study in japan in english.
    i haven’t checked out any of the links you’ve provided, but i will as soon as i can.

  2. Nigel says:

    Hi Cyndi,
    Thank you very much for the lovely comment. I’m so happy that my site is of use to you. Of course I enjoy photographing and identifying Japanese nature, but it makes it all even more worthwhile when my efforts help others. I hope that your boys come to love nature as much as I do. When I was a kid (back in England) I spent all my free time outdoors!
    You asked about a field guide in English, but I’m afraid there is nothing to recommend. I’ve never seen such a book. Many of the books I use are meant for Japanese children and they have simplified texts and furigana above the kanji, so I can just about manage to use them.
    It seems that many of the bugs here are also present in Florida or Australia or Singapore – so those places must have guides in English. If you find anything good, please let me know.
    Eventually I’ll get around to writing my own guide, but it’ll not be for a while… 😉
    Best wishes,

  3. Rick Hayhoe says:

    Nigel, it’s a marten indeed, and you are extremely lucky to get a photo of one. They are abundant where my wife and I live, in the back boonies of Mie-Ken, but to catch one like that in broad daylight is a real accomplishment.

  4. Nigel says:

    Cheers, yes, I guess I was just in the right place at the right time. Mind you, I’m outside for most of my free time so I guess that helps!!!

  5. scott says:

    Last night I was driving over mt eboshidaki here in sasebo (I have rescued 2 japanese bobtail kittens abandoned on the mountain, and I have seen wild boar on 2 occasions) the nature up here is great but last night I startled a couple of strange looking creatures that scurried into the brush too quickly for me to get a really good look. My wife insisted that they were ferrets but i thought them too big. I think I was looking at these. Is it possible here?

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