Idle cars create rodent harborage


July 9, 2020



You may recall that not long ago, a rabbit jumped out of the hood of my 2013 Ford Flex. Even if you don’t, I sure do — it cost a lot of money to repair the chewed wires and hoses, and shook me to the core to think how I tooled around town for at least three hours with no idea that it was hitching a ride (although wondering why my heat system was not blowing hot). Ah well: It lived and I got a magazine column out of it.

I say all this because the Detroit Free Press recently ran an article about an increase in rodent sightings under vehicle hoods — and if not the pest itself, the destruction it leaves behind. As the article coyly notes, “Varmints are searching elsewhere for food and your engine could be it. Some car brands, such as Toyota, use soy-coated wiring, which can be a delicious treat to a rodent.”

Sadly, the “expert suggestions” in the article don’t include call a pest management professional to help prevent your Buick from becoming a rat’s AirB&B. But they did offer a few good pointers you can pass along to any customers concerned about this trend, including:

  • Parking the car outside is, surprisingly, better protection than inside, because a vehicle is completely undisturbed in the nice, warm garage — whereas it’s more subjected to the weather and other disturbances in the elements.
  • Some automakers make a tape with chili oil on it. It wraps around wiring and has a repelling taste to rodents.
  • Keep bird feeders — rodent enticers — far away from parked vehicles.
  • Look at the car daily, open the door and the hood, shine lights on the engine.
  • If the vehicle is stored in a garage, consider leaving a radio on low volume; it could be enough of a disturbance to prevent a rodent from nesting, for example.

About the Author

Heather Gooch

Heather Gooch is the editor-in-chief for PMP magazine. She can be reached at or 330-321-9754.

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