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Drive martens away: how to keep them out of your house and car

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As cute as martens look with their little beady eyes: They are a real nuisance once you have them in your house, garden or even car. With their needle-sharp teeth, they eat their way through thermal insulation and car hoses.

This is not only annoying, it can also be expensive. And above all, it means a lot of work when the animals contaminate the house with droppings or urine and you have to clean everything up.

So that you don’t have to worry about marten damage so often in future, here are a few tips to help you drive the animals out of your house, car and garden.

How do you recognize a marten?

Before getting down to business, you should first clarify whether you really have a marten problem. It could also be other animals, such as mice or raccoons.

As martens are very shy and nocturnal, you will rarely see them. However, they reveal their identity in other ways:

  • Marten droppings is a fairly sure sign of marten infestation. The droppings are eight to ten centimeters long and about two centimeters thick. You may also recognize remains such as feathers or fruit stones in it.
  • Marten urine and droppings have a penetrating odor. If it smells in your attic or garage, a marten may be to blame.
  • Marten tracks look like those of a cat, but you can also recognize claw marks. These are not visible on cats.
  • Scratching and scraping noises in the attic can be an indication.
  • Martens are hunters. They therefore bring prey remains such as carcasses, eggshells or feathers into their territory.
  • Bite or Scratch marks on wood, insulation or cables can indicate martens.

Drive away martens: Home remedies are hardly effective

Time and again, people ask for home remedies against martens. They are supposedly cheaper and, above all, quickly to hand. The problem is that they are rarely effective. And if they are used, they involve a great deal of effort.

Dog hair
Do you have a dog? The smell of larger predators helps to put martens to flight. So you can spread some dog hair where a marten is rampaging. Cat hair should also work.

The disadvantages:

  • You have to scatter a lot of hair and replace it often so that the smell doesn’t fade too quickly.
  • Animal hair is also annoying and unhygienic for us humans.

Urine
This method also works with odor. Cat, dog and even human urine is said to help drive the martens away.

However, there are a few problems:

  • The scent is also unpleasant for us humans.
  • The urine would have to be changed daily to maintain the odor.
  • Martens quickly learn that there is no real danger from the urine.

Toilet stones and mothballs
The smell of mothballs and toilet stones is supposed to drive away martens. However, similar problems occur here as with the other methods:

  • Large quantities are needed to make it smell unpleasant enough to keep martens away.
  • The mothballs and stones would have to be replaced frequently. This can quickly become expensive.

Chili
Apart from unpleasant odors, spiciness is also supposed to drive away martens. However, this household remedy is not practical:

  • Chili only works if the marten has already bitten into the cable and can feel the spiciness or if so much chili has been applied that the marten notices it immediately.
  • As chili evaporates quickly, you should apply it generously every day.

Light
Martens are nocturnal and avoid light. Motion detectors can therefore be helpful in the garden or attic. Alternatively, there are also flashing repellent devices.

By the way: The tip to park under a street lamp can make the problem worse. It is always dark under the car – so the light from the lantern could make the martens seek shelter under your car in the dark.

Noises
Martens have fine ears and are therefore sensitive to noise. However, noises are usually only effective if they frighten the martens.

  • This requires loud and shrill noises.
  • Martens quickly become accustomed to a constant background noise, even if it is unpleasant.

Martens in the car: How to drive the predators away

Having a marten in your car is not only annoying, it can also be expensive. Once the small predator has made a mess of the cables and hoses, your car’s warning lights will quickly come on. Then the only solution is to take your car to the garage.

Why do martens damage cars?

Martens have a very pronounced territorial behavior. They do not tolerate other martens in their territory. However, as you are constantly moving your car, you are parking in the territory of other martens.

If they leave their scent mark on your car, which you then park at home again, “your” marten will register this.

Now it’s time to defend their territory. And that usually means the car. This is where the small animals go on the rampage, preferring to bite into soft plastics such as coolant hoses, ignition cables, power lines and much more.

There are a few things you can do to prevent martens from getting into your car.

1. Ultrasound

There are ultrasonic systems for cars that are designed to deter martens. However, the effectiveness of such devices is controversial because:

  • Martens get used to the frequency over time. You therefore need to use a device that changes frequency.
  • The predators ignore their discomfort because of the ultrasound when they encounter a conspecific.
  • Other wild and domestic animals in the vicinity could suffer from the frequency.

2. Motor bulkheads

Motor bulkheads are far more reliable. They block the furry animals’ path into the engine compartment.

Some manufacturers offer engine bulkheads as optional extras, others allow you to retrofit the engine.

3. Wire mesh under the hood

A simple DIY solution is to place close-meshed wire mesh under the hood.

The wire mesh should hurt the martens’ paws so that they don’t want to walk over it. However, success is not guaranteed.

4. Electrodes in the engine compartment

Sounds pretty mean, but it works.

  • With this method, electrodes are installed in the engine compartment and connected to the car battery.
  • If a marten comes up against it, it receives a small electric shock. This reliably drives the animals away.
  • The system can either be used by specialist staff in the workshop or you can retrofit your car yourself.

5. Protective hoses

In combination with a marten shock system, special protective hoses can also be placed around particularly vulnerable parts.

  • They are made of hard plastic and protect soft plastics that martens can bite through.
  • However, such protective tubes should be retrofitted by specialist personnel, as they are generally not allowed to come into contact with hot engine parts.

Drive martens out of the garden

Martens are not a major problem for the garden at first. Unlike foxes, badgers or moles, they do not dig in the ground and therefore do not make holes. They also do not eat beds or plants, but do eat pests such as rats, mice or earthworms.

But even if they are considered beneficial insects in the garden, you probably don’t want to harbor martens on your property because:

  • Droppings and scent marks lead to an intense, unpleasant odor.
  • If you keep chickens or rabbits in your garden, martens are a real danger. These animals are popular targets for marten attacks.
  • Martens are also dangerous for cats. When a free-roaming cat encounters a family of martens, a fight ensues. The cats are usually outnumbered.

What helps with martens in the garden

  • Motion detectors with light scare martens and can send them fleeing.
  • Especially if you have chickens, you should fence the garden tightly. Thorny hedges can also help.
  • A certain type of harp shrub, known by the resonant names of “piss-off plant” or “cat deterrent”, can also be helpful. However, as the name of the deterrent plant suggests, cats are also affected.
  • There are products that are supposed to deter martens with pheromones, such as Gomago (order here on Amazon*). However, critics claim that martens are intelligent enough to quickly learn that there is no real threat.

Marten defense: Do not hunt yourself

An important fact about martens: As furred game, they are subject to hunting laws. This means that “normal” citizens are prohibited from catching the animals. There is even the threat of considerable fines: According to the catalog of fines, depending on the offense, up to 5,000 euros or even imprisonment!

Only competent hunters are authorized to do this – and even they can only act outside the closed season.

  • The closed seasons vary depending on the federal state and marten species.
  • Until the fall, marten cubs are independent and look for their own territory. After that is a good time to seal the attic and have martens trapped by a professional.
  • Regardless of the legal ban, it is not advisable to trap martens on your own. The animals become very aggressive and can injure you.