With damage caused by browsing, nocturnal rampages or smelly legacies, the marten attracts attention mainly in an unpleasant way. Many people therefore hope for peace with the approaching winter. But do animals actually hibernate?

hibernation yes or no?

Anyone who deals with martens will quickly realize that the various representatives of Mustelidae unfortunately neither come up with the hoped-for hibernation, nor do they observe a weakened form of hibernation. Instead, the lively animals are active all year round and neither change their territory nor move to warmer regions with the temperatures.

behavior in winter

Basically, martens show the same behavior all year round, apart from the mating season in spring. However, individual aspects of their behavior in winter almost inevitably change due to the changing environment:

  • Increased foraging activity due to poorer food availability
  • More intense encroachment in human proximity due to large offer of sheltered accommodation
  • More intensive efforts to build nests, usually resulting in more perceptible damage, e.g. in the roof
Note: Many animals only start building their nests in autumn and penetrate into attics or basements. Then their year-round intensive play instinct is usually perceived much more intensively and disturbingly due to the closer proximity.

The typical winter quarters

Since martens don’t hibernate, don’t build a special dwelling for the winter. However, they intensify their efforts with falling temperatures in order to be well protected from frost and cold. Although they also use natural offerings, such as thickets and piles of wood, they prefer the already well-prepared offerings in the human environment. Typical sleeping places therefore look like this:

  • preferably in the roof area because of the quiet location
    • less often also in cellars
  • strong browsing of the surroundings
  • Use of existing insulating materials, boxes, clothing, etc. as nest cushions
  • frequent droppings in the immediate vicinity, resulting in stool in the attic
  • strong-smelling marking of this nest territory by anal secretions and urine
Note: Similar to a small dog, a marten explores its surroundings by gnawing and biting. Therefore, the destruction is usually far greater than would be necessary for the actual nest.

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