Rats: Is There Anything They Won’t Eat?

Is there anything that rats won’t eat? Apparently not, according to a post by user hometoughtgearhead on the popular internet repository, Reddit.

We’ve heard of rodents of all sorts winding up in vehicles – making nests, chewing things, and pooping everywhere like they own the place. Still, discovering that rats might chew through air conditioner lines is something quite out of the ordinary.

Check out the photo: The customer’s A/C line has multiple punctures, all caused by chewing.

How Does This Happen?

There are two working theories. As you read them, remember that A/C lines are filled with a pressurized and fairly poisonous substance.

The first theory is that the one rat paid the ultimate price so that his buddies could continue feasting safely on the A/C line’s sumptuous blend of rubber, nylon, and chemicals. In this theory, the initial rat dies immediately upon making the initial puncture, with a blast of pressurized poison to the face.

This, after some amount of work, mind you. These lines are tough since they’re designed to tightly contain pressurized refrigerant for years. As one Redditor points out, that A/C line was likely the rat’s last meal.

Now de-pressurized, the line was perfectly safe for continued munching by subsequent rats.

The second theory involves all of the punctures coming from a single “Super-Rat” who had likely mutated or evolved some poison resistance, or developed some sort of rat superpower, enabling him to withstand the refrigerant blast. In this theory, the rat is still alive, lurking, and amassing more skills while living in a wiring harness up in the dash.

In any case, the whereabouts of the rat, dead or alive, is unknown. The owner of this vehicle, meanwhile, is out hundreds of dollars or more to repair their A/C system. Refrigerant has been discharged straight-to-atmosphere, which is very bad news. And if there’s one rat, there are likely others living nearby.

How Do You Ward Off Rats?

Want to keep pesky rodents away from your car? I’m no rat expert – but based on distant and extremely cautious observation, I figure rodents primarily search for just three things.

The first of these is heat – like say, a warm engine or vehicle cabin after you’ve parked. In summertime, this is less of a concern, but becomes a major contributor in winter – and it’s not just rodents that’ll be attracted by the heat radiating from your recently parked car, cats are also known to curl up for a nap inside a car.

The second is food. And while an A/C line may suffice – and there are other wires in your car that may have insulation made out of organic materials, like soy – they’ll probably start on some bird seed stored in a nearby shed, a nearby trash can, some spilled dog kibble you sucked up with your garage shop-vac, or that half-eaten Timbit your kid chucked in the glove-box last week.

The third thing? Fuzzy things to make nests out of. These may include the carpeting in your vehicle, the stuffing in its seats, or the papery material in your engine or cabin air filters. Child seats are a particular rat delicacy, as they typically contain fuzzy material that’s also soaked in flavour-rich food and beverage spills.

Best way to make your car less appealing for rodent habitation? Get rid of their food.

Take food out of your car. Vacuum the interior to eliminate crumbs. Wash that child seat. If you store your car indoors, check nearby for other food sources like bird seed, cat food, or your household garbage.

If you park in the driveway, a nearby bird feeder, suet block, or composter may smell particularly delicious, especially when there’s a warm and fuzzy automobile parked in close proximity. To rodents, this is like an all-you-can-eat buffet at a luxury hotel.

Next, have a look under your hood (and seats, and dashboard) with a flashlight for signs of a nest. Have a good poke around. Look for leaves, lint, and bits of debris or poop that can give a nest away. Check your engine air filter, cabin air filter, and associated nearby ducting as well.

So You've Found a Rat…

Typically, I run screaming from rodents. As a result, I’m not sure what to do if you find a nest. Some sources suggest that leaving your hood open will eliminate the dark and warm atmosphere preferred for nesting, prompting your guests to pack up and leave.

Deterrents like mothballs, peppermint oil, or sound-repelling devices may also be effective. Don’t put any of these anywhere under your hood, though.

Remember: rodents can damage your vehicle, which can cost you money. But they can also startle you while you’re driving, which can be even worse.

Once, a mouse that nobody knew lived under the family minivan’s dashboard ran across my mother’s foot. Properly horrified of mice (it’s a family trait), she bruised her knee on the steering wheel when the genetically programmed rodent recoil engaged.

Thankfully, she hadn’t started the engine yet.

In summary: a little rodent awareness can save you money, keep you from surprise visits while you’re driving down the highway, and even help prevent damage to the atmosphere, too.

Don’t let a hungry rat take a bite out of your car – and your wallet. 7/2/2020 8:00:00 AM