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The Year of the Rat


By Julie Horner

According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2017 is the Year of the Rooster (or Chicken). But so far, it seems that Rat, another of the 12 Chinese signs, will also have an exceptional year. A routine visit to Mountain Mechanic a few weeks ago to get an oil change proved that. The voice at the other end of the line said, “You’ve got rats!”

Owner, Chris Currier, opened the hood and pointed to the place in the wiring harness where the rodents had gnawed through the plastic sheath that is supposed to protect the wires. Some of the wires were nearly severed. Every vehicle has a wiring harness, stretching from firewall to tail lights, which functions like a network of arteries supplying critical relay information and electric power to every operating system. Rats must gnaw on things to wear down their constantly growing incisors, and they often seek shelter from predators in your walls…or under your hood. If your car doesn’t start, it could be rats rather than a dead battery.

Chris says this is a bad year for rats. The proof hangs on nails in zip-lock bags just inside the rolling metal doors. A note is taped to one of the bags: “Is this in your car?” The rats especially love nesting near the cabin filter, which is located behind your glovebox where the heater blower is. Imagine the particulates when you turn on your heater in the morning, not to mention the smell.

First line of defense is to get rid of the rats on your property by setting traps or using poison bait, both commonly sold at your local hardware store. Chris advises leaving your hood open to discourage rats from using your car as their personal motorhome. He also recommends sprinkling cayenne pepper in areas under your hood where there is evidence of chewing, collections of detritus (leaves, twigs, vehicle insulation), or droppings. New Leaf carries cayenne powder in bulk in two strengths. Taco sauce can also work.

If you need to make a report to your insurance, from Chris’ experience, they’ll only cover you once; it’s critical to permanently deter rodents from your property so they don’t make a repeat performance.

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