DEAR JOAN: Gas prices are too high for me, and as a retired part-time teacher, I don’t drive my little Honda Fit much – once a week mostly. My neighbor just cleaned out all of his 60 year old junipers and found lots of rat nests. We both live on the edge of a watershed with a park below our two houses.
I had trouble with rats in my truck in my garage and actually thought they were smart enough to make a nest of acorns above the air filter. I had to pay a lot to fix the wires, and so now I always keep my rat zapped on the engine, left the hood up to discourage any further damage, and the light on in the garage. But the Honda is out.
Recently, I felt like I had received a gift from this very clever rat, as every part of the engine it could reach was very carefully covered with small, precisely cut juniper branches. Later, when I checked the car, this very handsome beige rat rushed up and ran.
I reversed the way I park, bringing the car closer to the garage door, but was surprised, especially after applying more peppermint spray, to find this artistic display of juniper greens on the engine the next day.
I will try to put rat zappers under the car and move the car more, but the space under the hood of this car is too small to put a rat zapper in.
Is there anything else I can do? Honestly, this rat is so beautiful, but I can’t afford this creature to eat my insulation or my wires.
Aisjah, San Mateo
DEAR AISJAH: Rat zappers, which kill instantly with an electric jolt, are not recommended for outdoor use. Other animals might be tempted to gain access, and wet outdoor conditions can short out these not-so-cheap devices.
It is much more difficult to fight rodents in the wild. There are many more of them than you, and you need to make sure your control attempts don’t ensnare other animals, including pets.
Although rats like to live near us, they don’t want to be too close, so get into the habit of visiting your car at different times of the day. Your fawn rat may be building this beautiful nest overnight, but it will nap there during the day.
Always honk your horn before starting the engine and maybe drive around the block. Your presence, disrupting its nesting time, might be enough to discourage any more artistic nest building.
If peppermint spray doesn’t work, try a hot pepper spray, which you can make yourself with powdered hot peppers, water, and a few drops of dish soap, or buy a spray from your local store. local DIY. It will need to be applied every few days.
You can also purchase special pepper-infused electrical tape for wrapping car wiring. Honda actually produces rodent tape that you can purchase or have your dealer install for you.
Placing a battery-powered light under the hood can also deter your unwanted visitor; remember to remove it before driving the car.
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