A number of members in the British In Austria Facebook Group have reported significant damage to vehicles caused by martens (Marder in German). This guide is intended to raise awareness of the issue and to provide some potential solutions.
Martens are nocturnal predators that are members of the weasel family and there seems to be one variety that likes chewing through cables.
In one recent year they caused €72m worth of damage and in Germany in 2017 they were the fourth-leading cause of non-collision auto damage. In 2016 they also caused damage to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), briefly stopping it.
The lovely creatures which are common in Germany, Switzerland and Austria have a habit of getting in to car engine compartments and causing havoc including chewing through cables. They seem to like all cables including break lines, windscreen washer pipes and it seems some engine housings.
There are at least two different types of marten, which are the pine marten (Baummarder) and the stone marten (Steinmarder). It is believed that the stone marten is the one that causes the damage.
If you move to a new area, check with neighbours to see if they are an issue. Apparently if you see lots of people leaving water bottles around their cars, it is a good indicator there is a marten problem.
A number of humane solutions have been proposed to deter these little critters:
- Keep your car in a garage.
- If you feed animals, move the food source away from the vehicle
- Fit a combined harmless but effective electric shock/ultrasound system to the vehicle
- Fit an ultra-sonic alarm to the vehicle
- Spray the engine compartment with deterrent.
- Place deterrent around the vehicle.
- Place dirty unwashed dog/cat hair in stockings around the vehicle
- Mothballs and lavender
- Place bottles of water around the vehicle (they don’t like the reflection apparently)
Note 1: Please be careful to remove any loose items placed in the engine compartment before driving off.
Note 2: In Germany there are reports that car insurance has to cover marten bites (Marderbisse). Check whether or not your insurance covers this!
- Economist article on martens disabling the LHC
- Bavarian News – How to deter martens from getting at vehicle wiring
- Let’s Eat Cake – Marten protection
- Wikipedia – European pine marten
- Forstinger – Marten repellent
- Amazon – marten deterrent sticks
- Ultrasonic and electric shock device against martens
Most of the information in this guide has been sourced from members of the British in Austria Facebook group.
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