The mustelid family (Mustelidae) is huge and includes sparrows, otters, skunks and wolverines as well as weasels, minks, badgers and many more. When people talk about the “marten” in this country, they usually mean the stone sable (Martes foina), because this is the only person who seeks to get close to humans and makes a fuss in garages and chicken coops. While the pine marten (Martes martes), also seen occasionally, tends to stay in the woods and keep a distance, the stone marten is a cultural follower. It does not hibernate and come out all year round. You can find the clever little bear in cities, barns, parks, and under rooftops. The stone marten has a bad reputation as a chicken thief, intimidating cats and biting cables. But can animals become dangerous to humans and pets?
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How dangerous are Martins?
The good news is that dolphins are not wild animals that transmit diseases to humans or pets. According to a study by the University of Veterinary Medicine in Hannover, no parasites that can be transmitted to humans, such as tapeworms or roundworms, were found in stone tanks, unlike, for example, foxes or raccoon dogs. Infectious diseases of typical wild animals such as tuberculosis or rabies are now considered to have been eradicated in Germany and therefore also do not pose a threat. Martins is also not aggressive towards people, but will run away as fast as he can if he encounters them. However, the animals in the house and garden are not harmful. Martens pose a serious threat to wild animals in the park, pets and vehicles in particular, which means they are among the pests in many places when they appear in close proximity to humans.
What do martins eat?
Martins come from the rank of predators of dogs. Its sharp teeth and powerful jaw are perfectly adapted for hunting mammals, fish and insects. Beech marten is one of the few species that does not feed exclusively on meat or fish, but is carnivorous. They prey on small and medium-sized mammals and birds. In summer they like to add berries, fruits and roots to their diet. In nature, beech marten is not as popular as nest thieves. They love to remove bird and chipmunk nests and do not stop at the parents. In winter, climbers also like to use bird feeding stations.
Martin in the garden
Since they are not very shy and are mainly active at night when few people are outside, martins love to break into the home garden. The beech marten even preys on animals that are larger than them, such as rabbits or chickens. The frantically flapping of chickens or pigeons in a flock can lead to a carnage as the sable undergoes a fatal reaction caused by frightened birds. Rodents and poultry in outdoor stables must therefore be well secured – on all sides – against marten attacks. Domestic cats are among the staunch enemies of stone hens. Wild animals can be very aggressive, especially during the mating season, and can also infect larger cats. Martin bites and scratches become easily infected because the animals’ claws and teeth carry many germs. Always take a cat showing signs of a fight with a marten to the vet for wound cleaning.
Why do Martins eat cable?
Another stone tank habit can be dangerous to humans: snapping at cables and vehicle rubber seals. This particular bad habit also gave the animal the name “robot marten”. This strange behavior actually does not like the smell or taste of the rubber and plastic parts of the marten, as it has long been assumed. And the warmth under the hood also does not have an attractive effect. Instead, it’s territorial behavior that causes Martin to go on a rampage in the engine compartment. If a previous visit to the fish in the car left traces of its smell there, the next animal tries to remove it again. Biting and scratching is an aggressive reaction to competing territorial claims. Here the car owner is at a disadvantage. If lines such as the cooling water or brake hoses are damaged during lawn fencing, this can cause serious vehicle defects and significant safety risks. The statistics of insurance companies counts an exact 217,000 dollars for the year 2020. By the way: the more the car moves, the higher the risks of minute damage. Because it is the car that changes between the regions of the marten and not the other way around!
Martin under the roof
The third problem that makes the stone marten dangerous for man is his indecency. Beech burrows do not dig their own shelters, but rather build their nests in abandoned burrows or burrows of other animals. Attics, siding, awnings or terraces are a welcome haven for graceful animals. Due to their slim body and small head, martins can slip through smaller openings. Cotton flaps are a real calling. A marten’s lair can usually be recognized by nocturnal noises such as scratching or coughing and droppings, which marten usually deposit in the same place. When building their nests, animals hide through insulating materials, break holes in boards, urinate and excrement and pull carrion and all kinds of nesting material into their burrows, which can lead to material damage and a strong-smelling nuisance.
How to protect yourself from chimes?
Outside the home, it is important to create enclosures, porches, or sheds with interlocking rabbit fences. The floor space in particular should be closed off, because the animals are good at digging, but they can also climb and jump. Therefore, containers for small animals should always be closed from the top. This helps not only against foxes and fish, but also against birds of prey that swoop in from above. There are a variety of electronic vehicle repellents that are supposed to scare cabinets with sounds, vibrations, or electricity. Home remedies such as dog hair or toilet molds have no proven effect against animals. If a sable enters the house, good advice is often very expensive. The only practical solution here is to close the entrances to the animals. Professional pest control tools help track trails. Catching a marten alive is not an easy task. This is only allowed for licensed fishermen. Killing a marten is prohibited under the Animal Welfare Act. Exceptions only apply to fishermen outside the closed season.
Shutterstock / Edward Kislinsky