Martens are causing headaches for more and more vehicle owners in Belgium as they gnaw through cables, causing costly damage.
Since 2016, these incidents have more than tripled, according to Flemish breakdown assistance VAB. In the last year alone, there has been a 7% increase in reported attacks by the weasel-like animals.
Particularly in Antwerp and the surrounding area, the problem got much worse, with VAB recording a 52% rise since last year. Half of all cases were reported in Wallonia, followed by Flemish Brabant (15%), Limburg (14%) and Brussels (10%). Although such attacks on cars rapidly increased in Antwerp, the region accounts for just 7% of all reported incidents.
Compared to several years ago, when attacks mainly took place in spring and autumn, car breakdowns as a result of marten damage are increasingly taking place throughout the year. “It is clearly a growing phenomenon that is no longer restricted to certain periods,” VAB says.
As cases increase, so do the costs – especially for electric vehicles. This sometimes exceeds €3,000 if the high-voltage cable of a hybrid car is chewed through.
The incidents can be avoided by parking in well-sealed garages, although for many this is not possible. Alternatively, for those in high-risk areas, VAB recommends marten repellent device, which costs between €250 and €400 including the installation.
Repellent devices are installed in car engine compartments and use ultrasound and mild electric shocks to deter critters from invading the vehicle.
People can also prevent martens from physically entering the engine compartment by closing off entrances, for example using wire mesh. Vulnerable cables and pipes can also be protected with solid cable ducts or sleeves. Some car manufacturers have already developed special marten kits that make the car inaccessible.