Oh rats! Dear readers, please indulge me. My comments first, before the questions. Every spring I get numerous emails about squirrels, mice, groundhogs (they prefer to be called woodchucks), rabbits and unidentified chewing critters. And every year, when I answer one reader’s query, I get scads of suggested solutions — some sweet and some not so much. Here, with no more bloviating, are samples from my inbox.
Q: Regarding rodents building nests in car engines, I had a big rodents nest that I had to chip out by hand! Very nasty. I then took it to the repair shop. They suggested peppermints. I melted 15 red/white peppermints in 2 cups of hot water, then put the mixture into a spray bottle. A quick spray into each wheel well when putting the car into the garage has worked wonders. No more critters, and it smells good. Try it!
C.B., Harwood Heights. Illinois
Q: The problem of rodents chewing wires is not isolated. They are attracted to the soybean-based insulation in newer vehicles. There is a solution that works. Bounce dryer sheets have unique smell that rodents find offensive. It works in campers and in the dashboards of seldom used machinery. Inexpensive and no poisons.
G. R. New Tripoli, Pennsylvania
Q: They got me twice, $500 each time (comprehensive did cover except for the deductible). They not only ate wiring, they filled the inner wheel wells with nesting materials and had babies. One died in the air intake vent and made for a smelly long trip. Wire manufacturers need to stop using soybean oil in their insulation. I was able to immediately evacuate them with peppermint oil spray; they hate it. A GM mechanic suggested Messina Squirrel Stopper and cayenne pepper. Spray wiring then sprinkle. It looks bad and future mechanics may need to hose it off. Problem solved on my last two vehicles.
J.P., Oswego, Illinois
Q: As for squirrels, I consider them to be rats with furry tails. I have good luck using moth balls to keep rabbits from under my wheelchair ramp. I think it will work for other mammals. An easy thing to try. Available at the dollar store.
W.N., Richfield, Minnesota
Q: Just read the letter to you from R.H. about varmints chewing on engine components. The best answer is to get all the junk out of your two-car garage and store your car where it was meant to be stored. And close the door always except when entering or exiting. Simple answer, except for hoarders!
J.H., Clermont, Florida
Q: This is the United States. We are allowed to have cats and guns. I caught tree rats nibbling on the wiring of my GTO. I shot them — every one I saw — for about three weeks. Sometimes I used a .22 rifle with a suppressor, sometimes I used a very high-powered SIG air gun. I allowed my cats out at night. They found their nests and I killed them all. Killing them is 100% effective. It took less than a month. None at my bird feeders, none under the cars. Haven't seen one since I started. And if you feel sorry for tree rodents, you probably love mice and rats too, yes? Squirrels are not endangered. They are urban vermin — cute, but vermin. Kill them and empty their nests. It's better that way. And I spent less than $30 in ammunition. Saved how much in repairs? And the marksmanship practice was excellent. No neighbor's homes were hit, no stray rounds. Hit what you aim for, and your wires will remain un-gnawed.
R.C., Fargo, North Dakota
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