Nilgiri Marten

The marten is a small carnivorous mammal found in the forests and mountainous regions of Europe, Asia, and North America. There are several species of marten, including the pine marten, stone marten, and American marten. Martens have long, slender bodies and are agile climbers, able to navigate through trees with ease. They are also skilled hunters, feeding on a variety of prey including rodents, birds, and insects. Martens are primarily solitary animals and are active both during the day and at night. They are known for their playful behavior, with individuals often engaging in chasing and tumbling games. However, like many other wild animals, the marten faces threats from habitat loss and hunting, as well as from road accidents and disease. Conservation efforts are being undertaken to protect the marten, including habitat restoration and monitoring programs to reduce mortality due to human activities.

Sl NOCharacteristicsDescription
1Common NameNilgiri marten
2Scientific NameMartes gawatkinsii
3Length55-65 cm
4ColourDark brown to black
5Height / girth ( For animals and birds – height, for fishes / reptiles – girth of the body) 
6Tail length ( if its mammal 40-45 cm
7Height till shoulder ( If its mammal)25-30 cm
8Average weight 1 to 2 kg
9Food habitsCarnivorous feeds mainly on small mammals,birds,insects,and fruits
10HabitatEndemic to western ghats of india found in evergreen and shola forests 
11Any interesting facts about them Nilgiri marten is rare and elusive species


The Nilgiri Marten (Martes gwatkinsii) is a small carnivorous mammal that is found in the Western Ghats of India. The Nilgiri Marten has dark brown fur, which can appear almost black. The fur on its throat and chest is usually lighter in colour.

The males and females are similar in size, with a head-to-body length of about 45-55 cm (18-22 inches) and a tail length of about 40-45 cm (16-18 inches). They typically weigh around 1-2 kg (2-4.5 lbs). The Nilgiri Marten has a long, slender body and a pointed snout. Its ears are rounded and its eyes are small and black. It has sharp, non-retractable claws and is well-adapted to climbing trees. The fur on its tail is bushy and helps it to maintain balance while moving through trees. Nilgiri Martens are agile climbers and spend much of their time in trees. They are also good swimmers and have been observed hunting fish in streams. They are solitary animals and are primarily active during the day, although they may be active at night as well. Nilgiri Martens are carnivorous and feed on a variety of prey, including rodents, birds, insects, and reptiles.

Food Habits

As a carnivorous species, the Nilgiri Marten primarily feeds on small mammals, such as rodents and shrews, as well as birds, insects, and reptiles. It has been observed hunting prey both on the ground and in trees and is well-adapted to climbing and moving through dense vegetation.


The Nilgiri Marten is a species that is found in the Western Ghats mountain range of India, which is a biodiversity hotspot and one of the world’s eight “hottest hotspots” of biological diversity. Specifically, the Nilgiri Marten is found in the montane forests of the Nilgiri Hills, which are located in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka.

The Nilgiri Marten is adapted to living in dense forests and is typically found at elevations between 1,000 and 2,500 meters (3,280 to 8,200 feet) above sea level. It is also known to inhabit plantations and other areas with dense vegetation.

Vulnerable Species

Nilgiri Marten is considered a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to habitat loss and fragmentation caused by human activities such as deforestation, agricultural expansion, and infrastructure development. The exact population size of the Nilgiri Marten is not known, but it is believed to be declining.

There have been some studies to estimate the population of the Nilgiri Marten in specific areas. For example, a study conducted in the Mukurthi National Park in Tamil Nadu estimated a population density of around 1.4 individuals per square kilometre. However, there is a lack of comprehensive data on the population of the species across its entire range.

The Nilgiri Marten faces a range of threats in addition to habitat loss, including hunting, accidental trapping, and roadkill. Hunting is a major threat, as the species is sometimes hunted for its fur or as a perceived threat to poultry. Accidental trapping can also occur when the animals come into contact with snares or traps set for other species.

Protected Areas

There are several national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the Western Ghats where the Nilgiri Marten can be found.

 Mukurthi National Park, Tamil Nadu is located in the Nilgiri Hills and is home to a range of endemic and endangered species, including the Nilgiri Marten.

 Silent Valley National Park is located in the Palakkad district of Kerala and is known for its rich biodiversity. The Nilgiri Marten is one of the species that can be found here. 

Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary is located in the Coorg district of Karnataka and is known for its rich forest cover and wildlife. The Nilgiri Marten is one of the species that can be found here. Periyar National Park is located in the Cardamom Hills of Kerala and is known for its tiger reserve and rich wildlife. The Nilgiri Marten is one of the species that can be found here.

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