Marten damage to the car the cable eaters

the pair of stone martens william and kate live in an enclosure in the otter center in hankensbuttel in lower saxony. There they are in the service of research on the road. With their help, scientists want to find out which cables taste best to martens. The goal: to prevent marten damage to cars in the future.

The two stone martens Kate and William sit in an enclosure at the Otter Center in Hankensbuttel, Lower Saxony, on Aug. 25, 2017. Photo: Philipp Schulze/dpa

every year, martens cause 70 million euros worth of damage to cars, says wildlife biologist hans-heinrich kruger of the otter center. Because martens love to nibble on car cables. They like to stay in cavities and especially under engine hoods – for protection from predators. To get there, the martens also like to eat their way through various cables. But martens also nibble on cables for other reasons:

  • They are very intelligent and very curious. If martens see something new, they bite into it. Martens grasp with their teeth, so to speak.
  • Martens have a fixed territorial behavior. There is always one male and one female living together. Every competitor is repelled. If a car has been in a garage for a long time and another marten has been in the engine compartment, does the marten that is usually there smell it?. He nibbles his way through the cable and climbs back under the hood.

Which types of cable martens do not like

At the otter center in hankensbuttel, william and kate are now to test different cables – tastefully. The scientists around hans-heinrich kruger get these directly from the automotive and supplier industry. With the help of the otters, he is supposed to find out which cables the animals like best and which ones they don’t like.

Martens provide important information for the auto industry

To make sure that william and kate respond to the cables, the scientists fix them in the shape of an arch in their enclosure. Most of the time, the animals ignore the cables for a few days. Then, however, the curiosity usually wins and the martens bite purely. Depending on the material of the cables, there may be massive bite marks or no bite marks at all on the cables.

hans-heinrich kruger then communicates these results to the automotive industry. And for peace of mind: the whole thing isn’t unhealthy for the martens, says hans-heinrich kruger. Because the animals don’t eat the cables, they just bite into them.


The otter center has been conducting research in this area for several years – because martens that chew on car cables are a major problem. The results have already been partially implemented by the automotive industry. A master’s thesis by biology student susann parlow from braunschweig is now examining the question more systematically.

More on this topic

    | if your car has ever been paralyzed by a marten, you’re not alone: every year, more than 200.000 cases reported. | the common stone marten is not a cute little animal. He likes to eat his way through car hoses and cables. He just can not help himself. | where are foxes, wild boars, martens or bats on the move right now?
  • 13. February 2018
  • Presenter: paulus muller
  • Talking points: hans-heinrich kruger, wildlife biologist, otter center in hankensbuttel

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