When you hear the word “rodent,” you probably just think of either mice or rats. But, taxonomically, there is so much more. Chipmunks, prairie dogs, squirrels, groundhogs, porcupines and beavers are all rodents too. So what makes a rodent a rodent? It’s all about the teeth. All of these mammals have a specialized structure to their teeth that give them the ability to gnaw. All rodents have both lower and upper pairs of front incisors that always grow. They also have a complex jaw musculature that enables them to gnaw. These mammals can be found in and around structures and sometimes use the human property for shelter or food.
Your Car and These Pesky Creatures
Just like you, when the temperature drops, rodents look for shelter from the storm. They also seek food and warmth to survive the chillier months of the year. It’s not uncommon for them to move right into your home when the weather gets colder. It’s also not uncommon for them to sneak into your car, too. It’s pretty easy for rodents to get into your car without a key. Rodents are able to fit through small holes. Openings on your car, such as pedal shafts, steering columns and vents make it easy to find access points on your vehicle. Plus, today’s eco-friendly materials like soy-based wiring is very attractive to a rodent’s palate. It’s like ringing the dinner bell for a rodent. Once these little intruders get into your car, they use insulation as nesting material and use tubes and wires as meals. It’s easy to see how a rodent can wreak havoc on your car. This can lead to electrical issues and short circuits. In addition to costing you money for car repairs, these pesky creatures can spread disease and cause health problems for you and your family. It’s wise to take measures to mitigate this threat.
How to Keep Rodents Out of Your Car
There are a number of steps that you can take to keep rodents out of your car in the winter.
- Be sure to close all doors and windows on your car. That includes the sunroof, too. These openings just make it too easy for rodent intruders to get into your car.
- Don’t allow moisture to build up inside your vehicle. Rodents thrive on water and are very attracted to moisture. Moisture can result from several things. It can be caused by a leak in the heater or a blocked pollen filter. Even damp clothing can cause moisture buildup. And if your car has a condensation problem, get it fixed.
- Be sure to inspect under the hood for frayed wires, gnawed materials, nests and droppings. If you find a rodent infestation, contact a professional.
- Always keep your car clean by getting rid of fast food bags, emptying paper and wiping up any spills in the car. If you have a trash receptacle in your car, empty it every day. Not only will this stuff attract rodents, they like to hide in garbage and trash.
- Keep foliage away from your vehicle. Things like autumn leaves give rodents a place for shelter from the rain. If there’s a lot of foliage surrounding your car, it’s just an inviting path that leads rodents straight to your car. No foliage equals no rodents.
- Spray some rodent repellent around the lower part of your car and wheel wells. Peppermint oil spray works well too. Even set traps around the wheel wells.
- Keep the radio on. Rodents do not like noise.
The Damage Rodents Can Cause to Your Car
It’s not uncommon for rodents to crawl up in the wheel well of a parked car and make their way over the brakes and into the engine. And they don’t stop there either. They can get inside your dashboard, too. It’s also not uncommon for these critters to chew up the fuel injection system or the wiring harness in the engine. Vermin just love to chew on wires. And the resulting damage is costly to fix. And with the stay-home order due to the current corona pandemic, the rodent ruination to engines has been especially high in some areas. A dealership in NY had five people call in one-week complaining of rats living in their car engines. Likely, there were urine and animal feces all over the engine in addition to small bones, leaves and sticks. Now is the time when varmints are looking for warmth and food. Your car can be a delicious treat for a rodent.
It may sound funny, but all rodents have great smilers. In the wild, rodents chew on rocks and trees to keep their teeth looking good. If they didn’t, they could actually die from overgrown teeth that lock their jaws. Parked cars are a crime of opportunity for rodents. And it comes as no surprise that there is an increasing amount of rodents nesting in cars during the pandemic.