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A marten in the garden can cause many problems. How you recognize the visit of the animal and the associated marten den in your garden is therefore extremely important.

In a nutshell

  • Martens don't dig holes
  • a marten den is not created by the animals themselves
  • they are recognizable by a variety of different signs in the garden
  • these primarily include faeces, scent traces and loud, nocturnal noises

Martens don't dig

The question often arises as to whether animals from the genus Martes dig holes to create a marten burrow. Compared to many other wild animals, the animals do not dig. Instead, they look for a suitable retreat and defend it to the death. This can be for example:

  • low tree hollows
  • tree trunks
  • stone accumulations
  • crevices

They prefer slightly elevated nesting sites. For this reason they do not dig, since the animals' preferred food is hunted above ground. If they can't find any other place to retreat, they move into the abandoned burrows of other animals. The only situation in which they dig themselves is when hunting chickens, ducks, rabbits or other animals kept in the garden. The dug tunnels are clearly recognizable and, due to their small size, indicate the troublemakers. Otherwise, a marten infestation in the garden can only be recognized by certain indications. These can also be found in human dwellings or structures that the animals more often choose as a nesting site. This includes:

  • roof trusses
  • rarely used garages
  • Garden sheds rarely used
  • barns

Notice: The most common troublemaker is the stone marten (Martes foina) with a white throat patch. In comparison, the pine marten (Martes martes) with its yellow-brown throat patch does not stay near human settlements.

feces

If you have the feeling that one of the animals has nested in your garden or even in the house, look for droppings. The droppings of a marten are easy to spot, because they differ significantly from the droppings of other animals. For example, a domestic cat buries its droppings, while martens simply leave them lying around. The droppings can occur anywhere in the garden. The following characteristics will help you identify:

Source: By Kk - Own work (etwiki), GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19136466
  • Length: 8cm to 10cm
  • Thickness: up to 2 cm
  • Shape: sausage
  • tip often twisted
  • smells strongly of musk

Tip: Pay particular attention to seeds, fruit pits, hair and the occasional feather in the droppings. The troublemakers eat up their prey completely and excrete the undigested body parts.

scent traces

Scent traces in the garden are also a sign of the presence of a marten. The animals are extremely territorial and extensively mark their territory with their urine, faeces and secretion glands. The glandular secretion smells even more musky than the feces and the entire garden is marked with it.

Sounds

Martens are extremely noisy animals and at certain times of the year the marten den can be identified by the noise. The first date is the summer months from the end of June to August. In these, the mating period takes place, during which male martens loudly court females and have to defend their own territory permanently. The sounds are reminiscent of louder, shrill cats. The second date is scheduled for March, because now the new generation of martens is born. Over the next 6 months you can expect the following sounds from the hatchlings playing in the marten den:

cub
  • clearly audible rumble
  • hissing noises
  • shrill screams

Notice: Rarely, the cause of the noise can be a raccoon. However, apart from their resting phase in winter, they are loud all year round.

paw prints

You can also look out for paw prints. Marten paws are about the size of a cat's and at first glance look very similar. However, they have five claws and a longer pad. Only four claws can be seen in cats. The marten tracks are particularly easy to find in winter or when they have walked through sand.

frequently asked Questions

How can weasels and martens be distinguished from each other?

If you happen to spot the animal and are wondering whether it's a beech marten or a weasel, there are certain signs you need to look out for. Weasels are extremely quiet compared to martens and in most cases are sighted visually. In addition, they do not eat car cables and are visibly smaller than their relatives. The scent traces, on the other hand, smell very similar.

Which animals dig holes in the garden?

While Martes do not dig holes in the garden, numerous other animals can visit your property. The most well-known include moles, voles, rabbits, hedgehogs and rats. These are a real nuisance, especially in the lawn. Foxes and thrushes are also included, only their holes are significantly larger.

How can the animal be successfully driven away?

In order to block martens from accessing your garden, you must close any access points to your property. This also includes trees that should have additional marten protection. In addition, you should lay out scent barriers such as dog hair or leafy shoots of the camphor tree (Cinnamomum camphora) in the garden. An exterminator is also a good idea if you have problems with the pest.

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