How dangerous are martens? – My beautiful garden

The mustelidae (Mustelidae) family is huge and includes ferrets, otters, skunks, and wolverines, as well as weasels, minks, badgers, and more. When they refer to the “marten” in this country, they usually mean the stone marten (Martes foina), because only this one seeks intimacy with people and causes a stir in garages and henhouses. While the pine marten (Martes martes), which is also occasionally seen, tends to stay in the woods and keep a distance, the stone marten is considered a cultivar. It does not hibernate and is turned off all year round. The agile teddy bear can be found in cities, sheds, gardens and under roofs. Beech marten has a bad reputation as a chicken thief, deterring cats and biting cables. But can animals become seriously dangerous to humans and animals?

Please visit website to view this item.

How dangerous are martens?

The good news is martens are not wild animals that transmit disease to humans or animals. According to a study by the University of Veterinary Medicine in Hanover, no parasites were found in stone martens that could be transmitted to humans, such as tapeworms and roundworms, unlike foxes or raccoon dogs. Common infectious diseases in wild animals, such as distemper and rabies, are now considered eradicated in Germany and therefore also pose no threat. Martens are also not aggressive towards humans, but will run away as quickly as possible if they encounter them. Nevertheless, pets in the home and garden are not harmless. Martens pose a serious threat to wild animals in the garden, especially pets and vehicles, which means that in many places they are classified as pests when they appear in close proximity to humans.

What do martens eat?

Martens come from the order of canine predators. Their sharp teeth and powerful jaws are perfectly suited to hunting mammals, fish and insects. Beech martens are one of the few species of martens that do not only feed on meat or fish, but are omnivorous. They hunt small and medium-sized mammals and birds. In summer, they like to add berries, fruits, and roots to their diet. In nature, beech marten are unpopular as nest robbers. They like to clean the nests of birds and squirrels and don’t stop at their parents. In winter, mountaineers also eagerly use bird feeding stands.

Marten in the garden

Since they are not too shy and are active mainly at night when few people are out, martens like to break into the backyard garden. Beech martens even feed on larger animals, such as rabbits and chickens. Feverish flapping of chickens or pigeons in a flock can cause a massacre as the marten is subject to the killing reflex of frightened birds. Rodents and poultry in outdoor stables should therefore be well protected – and on all sides – against attacks by martens. Domestic cats are one of the fierce enemies of domestic martens. Wild animals can be very aggressive, especially during the mating season, and can also hurt much larger cats. Marten bites and scratches are easily inflamed because animals’ claws and teeth carry many germs. Always take any cat that shows signs of marten fighting to the vet to clean up the wounds.

Why do martens eat cables?

Another habit of beech marten can be dangerous to humans: biting cables and rubber seals on vehicles. This particular bad habit gave the animal the name “autokna”. This strange behavior is not actually the marten’s liking for the smell or taste of rubber and plastic parts, as has long been assumed. The heat under the hood also has no appealing effect. Rather, it is territorial behavior that causes martens to go wild in the engine compartment of cars. If a previous visit to the marten in the car left odor traces there, another animal tries to remove them again. Biting and scratching is an aggressive reaction to rival territorial claims. The person who owns the car is at a disadvantage here. Damage to lines such as cooling water lines or brake lines during a pitch duel can lead to serious vehicle malfunctions and a significant safety hazard. Insurers’ statistics count 217,000 marten damages for 2020. By the way: the more the car is moved, the greater the risk of marten damage. Because it is the car that changes between the territories of the martens, not the other way around!

With their noise, martens rob the inhabitants of the house from sleep, and often paralyze the car: small predators often damage buildings and vehicles, which the courts have to deal with.

Marten under a roof

The third problem that makes the beech marten dangerous to humans is the lack of shyness. Beech martens do not dig their own shelters, but build nests in abandoned burrows or burrows of other animals. Attics, siding, sheds or terraces are a welcome retreat for agile animals. Due to the slim body and small head of the marten, they can slip through the smallest holes. Cat slippers are a real invitation. A marten’s lair can usually be identified by nocturnal noises such as scratching or coughing, and by the faeces that the marten usually stores in the same place. When building nests, animals dig through the insulation material, punch holes in panels, urinate and excrement, and draw carrion and all kinds of nesting materials into their burrows, which can lead to material damage and a strong unpleasant odor.

Marten at home can literally rob residents of sleep, and also paralyze the car. We advise how to chase away a small predator.

How to protect yourself from martens?

Outside the house, it is important to protect pens, terraces or a tool shed from martens with dense eyelets for rabbits. Especially the floor surface needs to be sealed as animals are good at digging, but can also climb and jump. Therefore, enclosures for small animals should always be closed at the top. This helps not only against foxes and martens, but also against birds of prey that fall from above. There are many different electronic vehicle deterrent devices designed to deter the marten with sounds, vibrations or electricity. Home remedies such as dog hair or toilet blocks are not proven to work against animals. If a marten has entered the house, good advice is often expensive. The only practical solution here is to close the animal entrances. Professional pest controllers help track pavements. Catching a live marten is not an easy task. This is only allowed for licensed hunters. Marten killing is prohibited under the Animal Welfare Act. Exceptions apply only to hunters outside the closed season.

Shutterstock / Peter Krejzl

Shutterstock / Eduard Kyslynskyy

Leave a Comment