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Coloma's avatar

Rodents in my engine compartment, what to do to discourage them?

Asked by Coloma (47105points) December 16th, 2015

I live in a rural, mountain area and we have been battling rats lately, well, for months now. Have hi-tech electrical traps, birth control bait, etc. but… the damn rats have now gotten in the engine compartment of my car in the garage. Today I had an oil change and my mechanic called me out to show me the rat poop and acorn husks in my engine compartment. A few months ago I had a fuel line rupture while driving on the highway.

What can I do to keep rats out of my damn engine?

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24 Answers

LuckyGuy's avatar

This is why I kill them as quickly as possible. I’ve had them chew wiring harnesses. They bricked one of my motorcycles. I would invest in 6 Victor rat traps at about $2.00 each. I’d also get a dozen Victor mouse traps. I would place them all around and in the vehicle.
Just keep doing it until you go a week without catching one. Don’t delay! They are working on reproduction as we speak.

JLeslie's avatar

Do you think they are nesting in the garage somewhere? Or, just going in and out? Maybe there is something you can put around the perimeter of the garage to either deter them (like snake away for snakes) or that will poison them. I prefer to deter if it’s possible. Also, look for how they might be getting in. One house I owned all of a sudden mice were getting in. We figured out they were getting in through a hole in the fireplace. We closed it up and no more mouse problem. If you have weep holes makes sure to put steel wool in them.

CWOTUS's avatar

I don’t garage my car at night, so I have had the same problem. I don’t know where I got the idea – I don’t believe that I came up with it on my own – but I tied some mothballs up in old pieces of pantyhose and hung those inside places in the engine compartment where they would not interfere with moving parts or be resting against hot parts of the engine block. That seems to have done the trick, as the accumulation of nut husks, nesting and other debris ceased afterward. (The mothballs did not affect the cabin air quality that I could detect.)

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Moth balls in any place they in to hide.

Coloma's avatar

Thanks guys, I will try the mothballs. Little varmints. haha
I couldn’t believe the amount of stuff in my engine compartment, leaves, grasses, poop, acorns, other random food things they found, like walnuts and a wad of like fuzzy cloth. I am going to get mothballs tomorrow and figure out where to stash a few.

@LuckyGuy We have every trap known to man here, and, we did just catch a juvenile in a Victor trap about 4–5 days ago, I am hoping it might be the culprit but am still going to try the mothball deterrent. @JLeslie Yes, they are in the garage and outlying areas,
There is no food available in the garage but they have gotten some pet foods in there before and they have nested in the cabinets.

They are very invasive no matter what you do. The door is electric and closes tightly and the other door to the garage has no rodent size access but somehow they get in anyway. It is amazing what they can do. I had a bag of mandarin oranges out there to keep them fresh, hung them off the ground and they found them over night.

Clever little beasties.

JLeslie's avatar

That snake away granule stuff smells just like mothballs. I wondered if it kept away other animals too.

Pandora's avatar

I’ve used the victor electric mouse trap. works like a dream. They seem to not be able to resist peanut butter. Plus you can throw them out in the woods for other critters to eat.
When I did have them in my kitchen

I did some research and found that they do no like powder cloves. Apparently it messes with their sense of smell. They were crawling on the counter and after putting a line of powder cloves on the counter, I found they would not cross it. It is easier to determine when you know where they are entering, but I was able to keep them off the counter which led them to the traps on the floor. You have to be careful using cloves around other animals as well. They don’t like it.
Moth balls does work because it is toxic to them if they are trapped near it, but it can be toxic to other animals, plus it leaves a nasty smell behind on everything it touches. Maybe if you mix cloves in a spray bottle and spray a large area, they may stay away from the area you want them out of, and use the victor traps to kill off any near by.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Get a “mouser” and let him/her live in the garage at night.

Judi's avatar

I’ve also heard they don’t like peppermint. I also fight this living in the mountains. I plan to plant peppermint around the house and especially the woodpile. I occasionally splash peppermint oil around my car too.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Coloma I forgot. There was another thing they did. I went out to start my tractor to clear snow. (Remember, I always start the tractor when I have to do something. It is never for a joy ride.) The thing cranked, started and died, started and died, crank, crank, crank….
I opened the hood, took off the air cleaner and the little bastards bundles of joy had chewed through the air filter element and filled up the metal canister with fluffy stuffing from under my seat. When the engine started, it sucked the stuffing right into the carb and packed it full. What a mess! Some had to have gotten into the engine. I could not vacuum it out because the stuffing was impregnated with gasoline and I know from a neighbor’s experience it can and will ignite in a running vacuum cleaner (It makes an impressive flame thrower by the way) I pulled out what I could with a fiber optic bore scope and flexible grippers.
I knew this issue would not get better on its own so I declared war.

I put out many traps in increments of 8: (8, 16, 24, 32). all over the barn. Then I worked on the perimeter. I did the same for my house. I store my traps in bird seed clean traps in clean bird seed. Used traps in a 5 gallon bucket of dedicated dirty bird seed. The wood absorbs the aromas of the seeds. When a mouse approaches it detects notes of sunflower seed, corn, millet, and BLAM it is over. I feed the carcasses to the fox – who eats the entire mouse. No mess.
I keep pushing out the perimeter to the tree line around the house. They have to cross an expanse of lawn to reach my house and few try it. Every now and then one will go for it and get nailed. I figure I am weeding out the brave ones.

LuckyGuy's avatar

The increments of 8 are for statistical reasons. I use reliability growth curves to predict the number, with confidence limits, of mice remaining. I stop the super eradication effort when I am 90% sure there is < 0.1 mouse in the house.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I often wonder whether our war on vermin and particularly rats and mice is forcing them in the direction of intelligence.

Coloma's avatar

@Pandora Interesting, maybe I’ll try some clove powder too. Yep, we ave the electric traps and they work well.
@Judi Yes, I too have heard of their aversion to peppermint., maybe clove and peppermint oil under the hood. Double whammy. haha
@Hypocrisy_Central I have 2 cats but they are pussies about being out in the cold. haha They do hunt around the garage during the day.
@Lucky Guy, Yeah, there was some sort of shredded cloth in their too, a nice, cozy nest and yes, we do toss the dead ones out for the critters in the weeds.
@stanleybmanly No doubt, they are very smart animals, I adore the pet rats, had several of them years ago and they are quick learners and have great memories. I was watching videos last night of clever rats and mice evading traps and getting the bait.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Just think of the implications inherent in tens of thousands of generations of killing off the dummies first.

Coloma's avatar

@stanleybmanly Make way for the super hero rats, able to leap tall traps in a single bound. haha

stanleybmanly's avatar

It isn’t feats of strength which should concern us.

Coloma's avatar

@stanleybmanly Well, resiliency and brains = super strains. haha

Cruiser's avatar

I keep moth balls in my boat and T-Bird when stored for the winter and never had mice issues. They seem to like my gas grill though as I find a nest there at least once during the winter.

Coloma's avatar

Hey..Cruiser! Do you smell the mothballs while driving? I have a filtration system on my heat/ac but can you smell them if you have the vents open using the fan?

Cruiser's avatar

I take the satchels out when I take it out of storage and smell dissipates in a couple days so I can’t really comment what it is like if you keep them in the car or engine compartment. I would think an air freshener or a few drops of essential oils would mask the smell if you kept the balls in the car.

Coloma's avatar

@Cruiser Got’cha. :-)

ibstubro's avatar

When the coons were crapping on the front stoop, red pepper powder made them stop.

So, run to the dollar store and buy ground cloves, ground red pepper, a bottle of peppermint flavoring and a box of moth flakes.

Put the peppermint in a spray bottle and mist under your vehicle. Mix the cloves, pepper and moth flakes. Sprinkle the floor under your engine compartment. Gasp for air, run from the garage, and throw-up.

Then go out and buy enough traps to try @LuckyGuy. You might want to get a neighbor kid to hose out the garage while you’re gone.

ibstubro's avatar

We have trouble with the neighbor’s cats crapping under the lean-too around the auction building. There’s gravel under there, and it’s out of the elements, so understandable but annoying.

I was excited when I found a repellent at the farm store. I dutifully went around and sprayed around the building.
OMG. I think it might have been the mixture I described above. It just grated on you. Impossible to ignore or adjust to. It just had to wear off.

Even worse than vintage Avon perfume, if you can imagine that. ~

Coloma's avatar

@ibstubro Great ideam the dollar store items and I love the intro of when the coons were crapping on the front stoop… great opening line to a novel. It was a dark and stormy night and the coons were crapping on the front stoop…lmao!

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