Over a week ago our family was watching TV upstairs when I noticed a foreign animal silhouette up near the roof. We turned off all the lights to get a better look at it. It looked like something that belonged in the ferret family. It had a full long tail and its’ fur was dark. It quickly ran off as we were all pushed up against the french doors observing. We looked online and found pictures of mongoose, badgers, fox, etc and could not find exactly what we saw at our house.
The next day, Saturday, Aaron went and asked our neighbor, Patrick, if he knew what the animal was. He was a little perplexed as he has not seen anything like that nor did he know exactly what it would be. He then called a friend, who called a friend, and before we knew it, there was a group of people congregated together near our driveway discussing this “unknown” animal. An older man remembered the owner of the house, Monsieur Torres, having a trap of some kind. Him and Aaron searched the property and found a very strong trap! Aaron got it set up on the upstairs covered porch that has large windows, which we keep open. The neighbors all agreed it was a Fouine or Stone Martin.
A week went by and we had not caught anything but the stray cat that hangs around. He was not happy and had the largest cat teeth I have ever seen. He definitely looked scary! We quickly let him out and set the trap again to try and catch this Fouine. When Austin woke up this morning for school he said he thought he heard something upstairs and perhaps we caught the animal. He was right!
He was the cutest thing! He was very intelligently gathering up the colored tablecloth and making padding for himself all around the cage. After we saw him I went to the computer to do a little searching and sure enough the Fouine is specific to France. This is a small portion of information I found:
“Smart, cute and as mischievous as a weasel the Stone or Beech Marten (Martes foina) is widespread across France. A close cousin of the Pine Marten the Stone Marten is very similar but slightly smaller in size measuring 40 – 50cm in body length with a tail of between 20 – 30 cm. The easiest way to distinguish between the two is by their creamy white bibs, in the Stone or Beech Martin the bib or collar is more fork shaped like an upside down V.
Generally nocturnal the Stone Marten is much less shy than the Pine Marten and can be found in close proximity to humans occasionally completely unnoticed, but they are commonly discovered over wintering in the attics of buildings sometimes even in small spaces between the roof and plasterboard ceiling, particularly in France. Sometimes house owners are awakened at night to their loud chattering and crashing around – for such a small creature they can make a lot of noise!”
This little guy was making his home between our roof and the ceiling because each morning we would notice small pieces of insulation were on the ground near our kitchen entrance, right underneath the rooftops where we saw him. Ha! So interesting! We took the little Fouine and drove about 5 miles down the road and let him go. Aaron was a little hesitant to open that cage, because, after all, a Fouine is a wild animal! That thing darted out of that trap so fast we blinked and he was gone!
In the above right photo, you can barely make out the brown Fouine running away! We could not detach the tablecloth because it had secured it so well to the trap. So now we will wait and see if anymore commotion takes place in our rafters.