Gnawing wires, ripping out insulation for nesting materials, or squirreling away caches of nuts and trash in car and truck engines can destroy some of man’s most sophisticated transportation technology and cause significant financial loss.Repair costs can be as high as $1500 and sometimes much more. In at least one case, so much wiring damage was done that the car was not worth fixing.
A lot of people are surprised to discover the source of these problems. Why are so many furry occupants living where not welcome? This is not a natural habitat for rats. Is the plan to take over the planet by disabling vehicles?
The real reason rodents seek a home under a hood is that it provides a dark, warm, secure place to hide,the latest is manufacturers are using products that attracts them to chew on the wires some more, until the ignition key is turned. The start-up of the car’s machinery can be deadly for the critters, and sometimes can cause serious consequences for the drivers as well.
Once inside an engine compartment, the rats see a mother lode of wonderful man-made objects, with wires and hoses and tubes connected to a spectacular variety of shiny metal and plastic components. To this assemblage, the pests will add acorns, pine needles, hardware items, bottle caps, and whatever ornaments suit the rats’ eclectic decorating style.
Even before the era of motorized vehicles, settlers contended with these tiny terrors by keeping the rats and mice out of the houses and barns.
Hard rock miners, however, actually encouraged rats to inhabit the mine tunnels, by saving crusts and crumbs of bread for the pests. The rats acted as a low-tech safety system. Being ultra-sensitive to tremors or quakes, the rats gave early warning of impending collapses or cave-ins. If rats suddenly went running for the exit, the mine workers were right behind them.
A clue is, that use of a deterrent which causes vibration or sound waves, may be a good choice.
One of the newest products addressing the wire-chewing problem is Honda Motor Tape. It is infused with pepper and perhaps some other deterrent and is used to wrap the wire harness. Early reports say it works well. It is not cheap, but costs much less than replacing an entire electrical system in vehicle.
A pack rat only needs an opening the size of a nickel to enter a garage. The rats are excellent climbers and can enter high or low. A poorly sealed garage is worse than parking outside, since rats are attracted to areas that are easily acessible, but larger predators cannot.
If a rat-proof garage is not available, the vehicle should be parked in the most open area possible, ideally with at least five to ten feet of totally clear space
If the vehicle must be parked in a carport, there should be no other items stored in the carport including boxes, yard tools, and trash containers. Any additional cover from stored items makes the area more attractive.
Keep all vegetation in the immediate area well trimmed to eliminate as much cover as possible. Residents should be able to clearly see under and behind all bushes and other plants anywhere near the vehicle. Avoid using rock borders rats can hide next to.
For many vehicles, leaving the hood open takes away the sense of enclosure and protection that the rat is seeking. If the choice is to leave the hood open, be sure to disconnect any internal engine compartment lights to avoid a dead battery in the morning. Also, secure the hood with some type of strap if high winds are a possibility. Leaving the hood open does not work as well on newer vehicles with engine covers and shrouds that still offer plenty of hding areas.
A utility light hanging from above with an open hood works best. Be sure to use a yellow “bug” bulb to minimize flying insects. A light under the car may help, but not as much as light from above. Lights are not effective on newer cars with engine covers and shrouds.
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