Martens are particularly voracious little animals. They are not exactly choosy when it comes to choosing food. They seek proximity to humans because that’s where they find the most food. What is quite good for the marten often turns out to be a problem for humans. Because in the proximity of humans the marten causes greater damage. Not only chickens are considered prey, but also the car can suffer damage from martens. With a marten spray this can be kept away, but it is still helpful to find out by which food he is attracted.
In order to drive the martens away, it must be understood what attracts them in the first place. So what is so attractive to martens that they seek proximity to humans? So in the following I would like to answer the question, what do martens prefer to eat?
The diet of martens
Martens are small and don’t seem to be very strong, but that doesn’t make them bad hunters. On the contrary, martens are among very persistent and agile hunters, outclassing many animals with their excellent agility.
One problem why martens are a problem near chicken coops is that they often kill more animals than they can even consume as prey. This uncontrolled killing instinct is triggered by the frantic movements of the prey animals. If the marten succeeds in gaining access to the chicken coop, its actual goal is to kill only one prey animal. However, the natural hunting instinct is awakened by the panicked movements of the other chickens. The marten will therefore kill all the other chickens in the coop as well and will only come to rest when no more chickens are alive.
This has earned him the reputation of being a particularly ruthless hunter. They kill their prey with a well-aimed bite to the neck. Larger animals may also be bitten in the chest. However, as hunters, they are very effective and kill the prey in a very short time.
Martens are nocturnal, which also affects their hunting activities. Thus, they raid chicken coops at night, surprising both the residents and the animals. Chickens have no chance to defend themselves and are defenceless against the marten.
The marten marks its territory with urine and feces. If you discover traces of a marten, then you should quickly take measures to drive the marten away. Because if this strikes once, then no possibility remains to them to avert the damage.
The marten usually drags its prey into its hiding place. There he can also build up a supply of prey. So, if you discover dead animals found far away from their actual hutch, then this is an indication that they have been dragged by the marten to the vicinity of his hiding place.
An overview of the prey
Actually, the marten is a shy animal. It tries to avoid humans as much as possible. However, when it comes to the question of what the marten prefers to eat, it quickly turns out that it makes sense for it to seek proximity to humans.
Because even though the marten is quite shy, the human provides a complete feast for the marten. Therefore, the marten is forced to follow the human and may encounter an exceedingly rich food supply there.
A very simple method for the marten to get food is to rummage through garbage cans. The agile marten has the ability to open a closed garbage can and search it for food remains. Food leftovers already provide enough food for this marten. But in the first place other food offers stand.
The marten prefers to search for other small mammals. Here it has it above all on useful animals of humans aimed. Even domestic animals are not safe from the marten and can fall victim to it.
Depending on the food supply, however, the marten may feed primarily on berries and other plants. In the summer months, when the supply of plant food is adequate, it does not necessarily target smaller mammals, but takes advantage of the vegetarian diet.
Here is a listing of the marten’s favorite foods:
- Food scraps from human garbage
- Pigeons and chickens
- Birds of any kind as well as their eggs
- Other smaller mammals
- Vegetable food (berries, fruits, nuts)
Do martens eat cats?
Martens target small mammals. These include mainly chickens, pigeons and rabbits. These animals are at the mercy of the marten and in the event of an encounter, the small farm animals lose out.
Cats, unlike chickens, have a very extensive territory in which they roam. Therefore, in the open air, it may happen that the paths of the marten and the cat cross.
Normally, both animals try to avoid each other. The cat is not a natural prey animal for the marten. The cat itself is very agile and is therefore not easy prey for the marten.
However, it may happen that the marten nevertheless attacks the cat. This can happen when the marten is trying to defend a litter of baby martens. It can be enough if the cat wanders near the litter and the marten tries to defend its young.
This encounter usually does not end well for the cat. The marten is much more aggressive and can cause serious injuries to the cat.
In the worst case, it can also happen that the marten kills the cat. This is regardless of whether the cat is small and light or heavier. The cat is inferior to the marten in most cases.
To protect the cat, the run should be limited if a marten is present. It is safest for the cat if it is not allowed outside. Marten and cat try to avoid each other, but if the female marten has just had offspring, it is extremely aggressive in the territory.
The best bait for martens
Martens can be caught by attracting them with bait. By knowing what martens prefer to eat the bait should be designed accordingly.
For bait, it is best if the following foods are used.
- dried fish
- dried fruit
If traps are equipped with these baits, there is a high probability that the marten will fall into the trap.
What do martens eat in winter
In winter, the food supply for all wildlife becomes scarcer. Most animals protect themselves from the food shortage and low temperatures by hibernating.
The marten, however, is not one of the animals that hibernates. They are active and foraging year-round.
While there is an adequate supply of plant food sources, such as berries or fruits, in the warmer months, the food supply is very limited in winter.
In winter, the marten has a higher energy demand. On the one hand, hunting is more difficult for him because there are fewer animals available as prey and on the other hand, the marten has to fight against the cold temperatures.
This leads to the fact that the marten increasingly looks for garbage cans in order to get food there. Therefore, especially in winter, the garbage cans should be additionally secured. This will deny the marten access and it will have to look for another territory.
Do car cables count towards the marten’s diet?
Martens are known and feared for biting cables in the car. This can cause the car not to start or damage can be observed while driving.
However, car cables are not on the marten’s food list. That the marten eats at car cables can happen for several reasons. But with ultrasound the marten can be kept away from the car.
The marten is curious
The marten is a very curious animal and examines its environment thoroughly. He tries to process new impressions with all his senses. This also includes gnawing on car cables. The rubber lining is said to smell very tempting to martens, so they often bite into the hoses.
They want to mark the territory
A second reason martens nibble on car cables is that they want to mark their territory. Martens are solitary and very territorial animals. To warn other martens not to invade their territory, they mark their territory.
The territory is marked by urine and the scent is clearly recognizable to hostile martens. If the scent mark is left in the engine compartment and another marten enters, then its aggression is aroused by the scent mark.
If the other marten is present, a turf war may ensue, as a result of which the hoses may be damaged. Even if there is no other marten around, the marten may take out its aggression on the car hoses. In any case, the marten in the car is a real danger and this is independent of whether the marten has enough food or not.
I have 30 years of experience and i started this website to see if i could try and share my knowledge to help you.
With a degree a Horticulture BSc (Hons)
I have worked as a horticulture specialist lead gardener, garden landscaper, and of course i am a hobby gardener at home in my own garden.
Please if you have any questions leave them on the article and i will get back to you personally.