How are Rats Getting Into Your Car and How Can You Keep Them Out?

How are Rats Getting Into Your Car and How Can You Keep Them Out?

The rat problem in Ventura with these critters getting into cars isn’t a new one but it sure has increased in recent years. Let’s take a closer look at the reasons why, the damage they can cause, and what you can do to protect your vehicle from the rat problem that’s impacting the entire county.

Understanding The Rat Problem in Ventura

When rats flourish they need somewhere safe to hide, ideally close to their food source.

When they hide in a car or truck they tend to do damage, often by chewing on wiring and causing electrical problems.

They often soil air filters and vents, causing foul odors and exposure to disease when an unsuspecting car owner turns on the air. While soiled air filters are annoying and gross, the wiring attacks by rats can cause thousands of dollars in damage that’s not always covered by insurance.

An unsubstantiated claim I often hear is that rats prefer one type of car over another. I haven’t seen any evidence that this is actually the case. What I’ve seen correlates more with a proximity to a food source rather than anything else.

I’ve spoken to many dealership mechanics that insist their brand of vehicle attracts rats more frequently than other types of vehicles. But most dealership mechanics only work on one particular brand of vehicle, so this could just be a case of confirmation bias.

In my experience, I find that rats nest equally among a variety of vehicle types, including construction vehicles, passenger cars, trucks, luxury vehicles, etc. I’ve even helped a hospital where rats damaged an incredibly expensive generator. These are not picky creatures. They will nest wherever they feel warm and safe.

I also occasionally hear people soy based wiring helps to attract rats , but I have my doubts about that theory. Mostly because I also see rats attack cars that are too old to have soy wiring. We just see it happen more with cars with soy based wiring simply because there are more cars out there with soy based wiring now, not due to a preference by rats.

Rats simply chew on things. Ask any rodenticide manufacturer and you’ll find that getting rats to actually eat something is harder than it sounds. Their keen nose and general resourcefulness means that they can probably find something more nutritious to eat than your wiring.

How can you check for signs of a rat infestation?

Grab a flashlight and pop your hood open. Look for paw prints in the dust. If you find something, preserve the evidence and send us a photo or schedule an appointment so we can get our eyes on what you’ve uncovered.

If you find rodent droppings, preserve those as well. There’s considerable overlap between the appearance of droppings or footprints of a large mouse and a juvenile rat. A closer look by our professionals will help us determine the correct approach to take to help address your issue.

What motivates rats to enter vehicles?

Most of the time the vehicle is just a warm, safe place to hide. A car that’s been driven home from work will have a warm engine for hours after, and rats like take advantage of the warmth and comfort the hood of a car can provide. Occasionally, food odors inside the car will attract rats, such as pet food forgotten in the trunk or remnants of a fast food meal left by an unruly toddler in the backseat. Don’t leave food in the car to avoid attracting attention from rats. Sometimes even items we don’t consider food, like grass seed or bird seed, can attract rats to your car.

How can you protect your car?

My favorite approach is a blend of offense and defense. Defend the vehicle by putting it in a defensible position.

Can you park it in a garage? A garage we can repair and fortify in an effort to keep rats out, but when a vehicle is only parked outside it becomes more difficult to protect.

If you don’t have an inclosed garage where you can store a vehicle, you may need to resort using a car cover that’s designed to keep rats out. Standard car covers won’t provide adequate protection for your vehicle, so you need to purchase a product that’s designed to keep pests from entering your vehicle.

I recommend a product you can buy online called CoverSeal. It features a weighted seal design that’s very effective at keeping rats out. I recommend you contact them directly with questions about their product since I have limited experience with it. (I’ve never spoken to or met anyone at CoverSeal and they’re unaware I recommend their products.) I only know that it’s been successful for most of the customers I have recommended it to. Just be sure that it seals to the ground properly. Yes, it’s pricey, but so is letting the rats into your car.

You should also investigate why rats might be flourishing in the areas surrounding your car.

What are they eating? Is there an open garbage can nearby that you can simply close the lid on or park further away from? Identify other food sources, such as fruit trees, nut trees, vegetable gardens, agriculture, animal feed, bird feeders, compost bins, etc, that could be feeding a nearby nest.

Where are the rats hiding? Are you parking near vegetation they like such as ivy or similar ground cover? Look out for dense vegetation like juniper bushes or maybe storm drains in city settings. Try parking away from places rats would hide because they may notice your warm car and think it a more comfortable place to spend the night.

Another method I’ve seen work, albeit with limited results, is simply leaving your hood open so the rats don’t feel as secure. The open hood exposes the area, making it feel less safe to the rats. This also cools the engine faster so they get less warmth, making your vehicle a less desirable place to nest.

Unfortunately, this may not be a very practical solution for many car owners. I’ve seen people come out to their car in the morning and find that thieves had stolen parts because the hood was left open. Also, it sometimes fails to deter the rats, which makes the risk of leaving your hood open not worth the results.

Another alternative I’d like to discuss is the use of repellents. Ultrasonic repeller devices or repellents using odors from essential oils are popular, but that doesn’t mean they’re very effective. I encourage you to look at independent data and the 2003 FTC judgment against a manufacturer of ultrasonic devices. I only bring it up to save you the trouble of wasting money. The idea that rats don’t like certain sounds, or frequencies, or smells is silly. I’ll tell you what rats don’t like: being hungry or feeling exposed to predators. So, let’s take their food sources away and expose their hiding places instead. Rats will endure any smells, sounds, or frequencies if it means access to shelter or food.

Here are some important statements from the University of California you can read.

“Rats are wary animals, easily frightened by unfamiliar or strange noises. However, they quickly become accustomed to repeated sounds, making the use of frightening devices—including high frequency and ultrasonic sounds—ineffective for controlling rats in homes and gardens.”

“Rats have an initial aversion to some odors and tastes, but no repellents have been found to solve a rat problem for more than a very short time. There are no truly effective rat repellents registered for use in California.”

That brings us to the next part of our defense, a good offense.

If we can identify food sources and take them away, we will create foraging and hungry rats. But if we take away their food source and replace it with appropriate bait stations or a snap trap baited with tasty morsels, we’ll create dead rats.

Studies have shown that dead rats won’t chew on your car or do much else.

Coming up with an optimal offensive strategy is really something to be handled by a professional. One of the primary reasons: We can kill rats easily, but are we killing the rats that are affecting your car? Are we killing the RIGHT rats? Or are we reducing the local competition for the target rats and making their lives easier?

This is what requires an experienced investigator. At Spearhead Pest Control we bring DECADES of experience into the fight against the rat problem in Ventura and tools you’re not likely to see anywhere else. Rudy was elected and served as the local Chairman of Pest Control Operators of California for years and was also a featured instructor at the West Coast Rodent Academy in its early days. Rudy has been a pioneer in the use of technology for rodent control, UV dyes and powders to establish trails, motion activated night-vision cameras to monitor activity and determine species, Bluetooth and WIFI enabled traps to gather data, “snake” cameras to get into otherwise inaccessible walls and spaces, and more.

Our policy is: We don’t lose fights to rats. We solve the rat problem in Ventura.

If you have a rat problem in Ventura, give us a call and after a few just minutes you’ll know you and your car are in capable hands.



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