Pack rats pose hazard in vehicle repairs
Vehicle maintenance comes with its own intricacies, but one often-overlooked hazard is the possibility of pack rats, Webster Auto Service owner Barry Allen said.
Rat damage is common in vehicles, and sometimes becomes extensive enough for insurance companies to get involved, Allen said.
“Why they like to chew on wiring and hosing, I don’t know, I can’t imagine,” he said. “We repaired one car and took it back to the people, but the rats got back in there and chewed off the same wires we’d just repaired.”
The damage can vary so much that repairs are too expensive, said Hillsboro Ford partner Randy Hagen.
“They can do a heck of a lot of damage,” he said. “In an older car I’ve seen them total it. We had a gentleman a couple years ago who had his Mustang in the shed, and it had $3,000 worth of damage.”
Allen and an employee once found a rat living under the hood of a vehicle when they went to do repairs.
“We have pack rats do a lot of damage to cars, especially for people who live in the country,” he said. “That was the first time we had one still under the hood. I’m sure he was surprised when he saw it there. I was just amazed he could put the gloves on and catch it.
“I think most of the time they’ll jump out when people start the car, but this guy decided to take a ride.”
Hagen has seen an increase in vehicles damaged by pack rats or other rodents in recent years.
“Depending on how often you drive your car, they’re pretty much just there,” he said. “We’ve had them in a car just out here on the lot. It’s just one of those crazy things.”
While Hillsboro Ford has tried different options for catching rats, finding the right one can be tricky, Hagen said.
“You don’t want to put out something a cat or dog is going to eat and die,” he said. “We’ve had vehicles out here before where we put out a hanging piece of rat bait and a day or two later found it dead. If that fixes the problem then we’re good to go.”
Hagen is unsure of the cause, but the issue affects many people equally, and he sees it increasing in severity as cars’ electrical systems become more complex.
“Everything is so much more electrical,” he said. “There are so many more wires and wiring harnesses, and everything in these cars in the last 10 to 15 years.”
Last modified April 22, 2020