The Cutest Animal That Ever Went Extinct In Chicago

Despite being completely hunted to extinction from the Chicago area hundreds of years ago, the American Marten isn’t endangered at all.

So I’m still learning all this cool stuff about Chicago reading that book I mentioned last week (don’t judge, I’m a slow reader). I’m still at the part where there are no people or buildings yet (shut up, I told you I was a slow reader), just a handful of log cabins and a thriving fur trade.

Apparently, two of the most prized animals in the fur trade were beavers and martens. Okay, I know what a beaver is, they’re those weird-looking animals with the flippers and duckbill. But what the hell is a Pine Marten?

I’ve never heard of them before, but they’re pretty damn cute, they’re like a miniature fox. It’s kind of like a mix between a ferret and mongoose which probably lands them somewhere in the weasel department. They’re exponentially cooler-looking than the conventional backyard squirrel and would make a pretty badass pet. I bet John Kinzie had one as a pet back in the day, even if it was only for the fur.

Its hard to say when they went extinct in Illinois exactly. All I can find out is that they lived in the area in pre-settlement times, and now they don’t. But I vote we reintroduce the Pine Marten in Chicago, maybe even make them the unofficial mascot of the city. They would take care of our rat problem and serve as some pretty awesome entertainment in doing so.


  1. beaver keeper says:

    The picture you have posted is a platyapus.

    • chicagoranter says:

      beavers that have been subjected to the toxic sludge of the Chicago River often have platypus-like tendencies. I believe this picture is a platypus, but not too far off from the bizarre creatures that live in the murky waters of the river ;)

  2. This animal looks adorable, but is probably less appealing when seen in the act of killing a rabbit or squirrel (here, for example:

    Great post–I had never heard of martens before. Since you are a slow reader, you may enjoy the endless fine-print book, “The Natural History of the Chicago Region,” by Joel Greenberg. Tons of information about the environs of Chicago from ancient times to the present. I have never read it, but it’s fun to dip in to.

    I recently read a hilarious review by Russell Baker of the book “Nature Wars” by Jon Sterba; seems apropos.


    • chicagoranter says:

      What! That rabbit is like 4 times the size that thing! I was under the impression that Martens were a bit bigger, but that picture makes it look like just a chipmunk on crack! crazy world we live in.

      And thanks for the book recommendations Celia! They are next up on my to-read list, which means I’ll be getting to them by mid-June at this rate hahah. I’ll check out the Nature Wars review more in a bit, but looks solid so far

  3. Grace Bradly says:

    That’s a platypus.. Not a beaver XD

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