December 19, 2019 / Rodents

They’re Out of House… Now Keep Mice Out of Your Vehicle

Image of a vehicle outside on a snowy New England day

You’ve already done the smart thing and protected your home against rodents by sealing up potential entry points and having a pest control professional safely set bait and traps. You no longer worry about the relentless heat-seeking varmints damaging your greatest asset—your home. But there’s another place on your property you probably haven’t protected against mice and rats, even though it’s one of their favorite places to seek shelter: your car. 

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A Possible Mouse Mobile Home?

As the temperatures start to fall toward freezing, rodents begin seeking out warm spots -- or at least spaces safe from the elements, wherever they may be. Before a properly-protected home can send them packing down the street to the next (unprotected) house, first they’re going to look around your property for a closer, alternative means of shelter. 

Any cars or trucks you have parked outside or in the garage—especially when they’re nice and toasty in the hour or so after you get home—are going to be very appealing to rodents seeking shelter.

Automobiles are built in a way that makes breaking in a breeze for the small, flexible little creatures. Vents, cable holes, pedal shafts and steering columns have just enough room to allow the critters to squeeze their way in. And just like your home, once inside, they can wreak havoc on electrical wiring, components, tubes and circuits. 

Not to mention, rodents present serious health risks to humans wherever you might encounter them, including Lyme disease, salmonella, rat-bite fever, hantavirus, typhus, pox and—believe it or not, even in this day and age—plague. 

Although you can’t exactly seal up your car or truck the way you can your roof and soffits, there are a few steps you can take to make your vehicle less appealing to rodents

Steps to Safeguard Your Ride from Rodents

Here are a few smart suggestions to protect your ride from rodents:

First, avoid parking near areas where rats and mice thrive, like wooded places or in tall grass. It should go without saying, but don’t leave food in your car or truck, either. Rodents will sniff out your tasty leftovers and turn your car into a bed and breakfast overnight.

You can also deter rodents by keeping human or pet hair in your vehicle cabin, or by freshening up your interior with peppermint essential oil, a smell that rodents aren’t particularly keen to. If you really want to do everything you can to keep mice and rats away, open your hood after you park to let engine heat dissipate faster.

If you’re unlucky enough to already be dealing with an infestation, it’s important to clean your vehicle properly after you’ve removed any living (or dead) animals from the vehicle. First, disconnect the battery so you don’t injure yourself while cleaning electrical components. Next, remove any droppings or nests, being sure to wear safety gloves. Then, using a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water (or a commercial disinfectant), spray everything in your engine compartment until it’s fully soaked. Wait five minutes (or however long indicated on the disinfectant label) then dry with paper towels (throw them away immediately afterwards). Most importantly, don’t forget to wash your hands once you’re finished.

Want to learn more about rodents? Check out some of our related blog articles.

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