Once upon a time my granny heard a bit of a rumpus in her attic. We of course dismissed it. Granny was just hearing things. We probably should have known better. As ever granny was quite correct – there were odd noises coming from the attic and whats worse a foul smell was beginning to linger around her front door. After a wee nosey it became clear why there was a smell. Whatever animal was roaming around up there had decided the perfect place for its latrine was right by the attic door. Unfortunately the combined smell of urine and poo was so strong it wafted down into the house. What a way to great guests! As you can imagine our Gran was not amused.
We soon discovered who the culprits were – a family of unbelievably cute pine martens! Pine martens are part of the mustelid family which also contains stoats, weasels, wolverines, badgers, otters and mink.
Even although the family were stinking out her house our gran still left some food out for them – a few eggs (we did not know if they preferred boiled, fried, poached or scrambled so just left them raw), raspberry jam (can’t go wrong there) and bread (they seemed to enjoy kingsmill – I do not think they are too fussy)! I believe they have a bit of a sweet tooth as they have been known to even eat honey! Perhaps we should have left out a selection of preserves. I bet they would have enjoyed peanut butter too. Anyway one evening my mother and I attempted a stake-out. We left out some food and hid in the car to try and take some pictures. We were so lucky with what we saw. It was like watching some David Attenborough show only without his soothing commentary.
We watched and we waited,twiddled our thumbs, tried to stifle a sneeze or two, looked at the time and shifted uncomfortably until eventually we got our first sighting. A little chestnut head popped out a teeny hole just above the gutter in the roof. It pranced along the gutter and nimbly shot down to the food. The kits were keen to come out too and to our delight they did! One by one they clambered out the hole as well. They were obviously hungry constantly squeaking for the treats. Their mother brought up the food to them so they did not need to navigate down themselves. However one of the little ones got a bit carried away and promptly fell from his high vantage point splat on to the front porch. It was not very impressed.There was crying and whimpering until mum came back to help it back on to the safety of the roof. Not before it nearly crept into granny’s house (how did we leave the door open?!) and had a good nosey in her log basket.
And so our stake-out mission was complete. I think we held our breath (or it felt like we did throughout the whole thing). It was amazing to see these delightful little animals so close up. How lucky we had been.
Sadly the martens soon grew up and they have not returned. I think perhaps granny is secretly relieved. There are no more commotions up in the attic and no lingering latrine smell. All she has to contend with now are her usual garden birds, frogs, deer, wild cats, boar and beaver…perhaps that is a story for another day though.
Please check out:
to see some pine marten and wildlife inspired pyrography art-work. All hand-drawn on to recycled wood 🙂