As your vehicle sits peacefully in your garage this winter you may not realize that it is a prime target for over wintering rodents. This becomes a nightmare when you go to start your car and it will not turn over. Then you lift the hood and the gathering of dark brown pellet-sized droppings around the well-chewed wiring harness leaves you the victim of a rodent that was looking to find shelter and food sources for the cold season. One rodent is capable of leaving your vehicle immobile. Repairs will be costly along with the sudden lack of transportation while it gets fixed. I’ve seen damages to vehicles costing upwards of $2000! Don’t fall to the myth that where you live will reduce the chances of this happening. Vehicle damage from rodents can happen in urban areas as well as rural areas. Signs that they are under the hood are nests, food storage caches, and their droppings. They will chew wiring and hoses looking for water and tear at the insulation, interior, and seats in their quest for nesting materials and food.
The question to ask is, “What can be done to minimize the potential for rodent infestations and prevent the damages caused by rodents?” First, take a proactive approach starting with the understanding that rodents operate on instinct. Those instincts seem to be focused on the need to find food and shelter. A parked vehicle can provide both. Secondly, one must understand that an ideal rodent habitat is one that provides consistent shelter from natural enemies as well as weather extremes. Although frequently driven vehicles don’t really match this description, if they are parked near such a habitat they can be damaged as the rodent may be attracted to the warmth of a recently driven vehicle and the possible contents inside the vehicle.
Keep food sources away
First, make sure there are no food sources inside your vehicle. A rodent has a very keen sense of smell, and follows it’s nose with persistence until the meal is found. No vehicle is designed to be airtight. Eliminating any and all sources of scents is what will go the farthest toward keeping them out of your vehicle. That means anything that is considered food for humans or animals and is not in an unopened can or bottle. Typical fast food remnants are the obvious source, from stray fries, burger bits, and drink spillage on carpet and upholstery, to unopened condiment packages—especially sauces. Common places under seats and around floor-mounted components are the worst. It helps to have your vehicle cleaned inside and out with some regularity.
Park in a habitat resistant space
Ivy beds, poorly organized storage sheds and garages with clutter, long-standing piles of building materials, abandoned large appliances, and poorly maintained garbage areas all make for excellent rodent habitats. The most practical way to deal with this problem is to just remove the habitat. Have old appliances hauled away, properly stack building materials or wood piles, trim ivy and overgrown shrubs to minimize harborages. Organize your garage to keep clutter from accumulating. Keep garbage in proper containers with fitting lids and dispose of the trash regularly. It’s probably not going to be the cheapest way but it is the most effective proactive method of minimizing rodent populations. And if none of the problem areas are actually on your property, it will be a more difficult task to achieve. Traps and bait can be used as the next step of abatement or as the alternative if the area is difficult to clean up. Baiting in particular should be applied by a professional to minimize dangers to children and non target animals.