Welcome to Howtopreventratsfromeatingcarwires.com!
First of all, thank you so much for visiting my site! If you are dealing with a rodent issue in your car, I want you to know that I have been in your shoes. I know first hand how seriously frustrating this issue can be and I can speak to you from experience (see My Story page).
I created this website with the intent of helping as many people as possible who are dealing with rodent damage to their cars. I want to be clear that there are affiliate links to Amazon on this website where I will receive a commission for purchases made through them, though there will be no additional cost to you. Please only make purchases through these links if you have found the information here to be helpful. Alright, let’s get to it!
Important Note: If you want to get straight to the point (essentially if you don’t care about the “why”) and want step by step instructions on how to keep Norway Rats and Roof Rats out of your car. See Step-By-Step: How to Keep Rats Out Of Your Car
There are 6 types of rodents that may be getting into your car:
- Norway Rats (aka Brown Rats) – See article Step-By-Step: How to Keep Rats Out Of Your Car or See Below for More Information
- Roof Rats (aka Black Rats) – See article Step-By-Step: How to Keep Rats Out Of Your Car or See Below for More Information
- Mice – See article How to Prevent Mice From Eating Your Car Wires
- Squirrels – See article How to Prevent Squirrels From Eating Your Car Wires
- Pack Rats – See article How to Prevent Pack Rats From Eating Your Car Wires
- Rabbits – See article How to Prevent Rabbits From Eating Your Car Wires
This Home page is dedicated to methodology that serves to protect against Norway Rats and Roof Rats. Please see the appropriate article for the type of rodent you are dealing with. If you don’t know then see the article How to tell if a Rat, a Mouse, or a Squirrel is chewing your car wires?. The strategies for defending your car are pretty much the same for each but there are subtle differences.
Now..Let’s get them RATS!
To initially organize this coup and retake the throne that is your car, you must first know your enemy. Here is a quick run down of your enemy profile, The Rat.
- Rats are habitual. They like to run along the same paths, eat at the same places (2-3 places), eat the same foods, etc. This is even true to the extent that if a rat has a normal path that typically has an object in it’s way, even if the object is removed it will still run around it as if it were still there.
- Rats are very cautious. They will initially eat small chunks of a potentially new food source to determine whether it is safe or not. They cannot vomit so they will eat a small bit first to see if they get sick. Rats will also be deterred from places/situations that are not familiar. Paths that are marked as “safe” will have signs (e.g. rat droppings, rat urine, chewed up bits of paper/objects) that the other rats will look for.
- Rats are sneaky. They prefer to stay concealed/in the dark and will always prefer to run alongside a wall or under foliage/covering.
- Rats pee on EVERYTHING. This is their way of marking territory, showing that food is safe to eat or if this path is safe to take, etc. Rat piss is the equivalent of an identity card. Other rats can tell information about that rat based on the pee (age, gender, size, etc.). A rat nest would essentially glow under a black light.
- Rats have terrible eyesight. They rely on their sense of smell in order to determine if something is safe, and their whiskers to navigate their environment. Though they are limited by the clarity of their vision, rats can see ultraviolet light and this can help them in spotting their urine.
- Rats are omnivores, meaning they will eat both plants and meats.
- Rat teeth will continually grow, so they are always gnawing on objects to try and keep them at a manageable length.
- Rats live in colonies of 8-15 and they can reproduce 6-8 new rat babies every 22-24 days! When weather shifts or food sources are scarce, alternative shelter may be sought out.
Now that we have a basic understanding of our enemy, we need to determine why they are taking shelter in your car.
Top 3 Reasons Why Rats Are In Your Car
- Nesting: They are looking for a new place to nest and the engine compartment of cars provide shelter and warmth. If this is the case, you will see bits of shredded objects in a nook or corner of the engine compartment. You will notice rat droppings as well and a black light would reveal a serious amount of rat urine.
- Chew Toys: As mentioned previously (in the enemy profile) rat teeth continually grow all their lives and the engine compartments of cars can provide tons of wiring and tubing that rats can enjoy to keep their teeth at a manageable length in a concealed environment.
- Food: Most newer cars have soy-based wiring, which can provide a nice snack for the rat. See article Does your car have soy based wiring?
So now that we know the behaviors of our enemy and the reasons why they are camping out in your car, let’s devise a plan to evict these squatters!
Top Solutions to Keep Rats Out of Your Car
|Solution||Efficacy||Probability of Success***||Ease of use||Cost|
|Owl Box*||5/5||N/A||Easiest to Most Difficult**||$$$|
|Snap Trap||3/5||62%||Easy to Moderate||$|
|Poison Bait Station||3/5||64%||Moderate||$|
|Cat||4/5||86%||Moderate to Most Difficult||$$$|
|Leave Hood Up||4/5||100%||Easy||None|
*An owl box or a cat should NOT be used in combination with a poison bait station. If the rat ends up eating the poison and the owl/cat eats the rat…you get the picture. **Owl boxes can be the easiest solution if you go through a service to create and install the owl box, but it could be the most difficult solution if you decide to build your own box and install yourself. Also, depending on where you live, owls may be more difficult to attract. ***See article What 1,300+ Comments say on How to Keep Rodents Out Of Your Car
First Plan Of Action
It is of utmost importance to IMMEDIATELY have at least Snap Traps along the bases of the tread and tops of your two front tires to block off the entrances (see picture in Snap Trap description for best placement). Think of this as your first line of defense. Once you have those, I would then consider the other solutions to add into the mix. If the rat is in your car, the act of going to that car is already part of the rat’s habit, so we need to break that habit by blocking off entrances with traps, and introducing strong smells, bright lights, and/or ultrasonic noise. Now unlike the owl box solution (pretty much a one stop shop), the following methods will be most effective if used in combination with each other.
Important Note: This webpage was written assuming you have an engine in the front of your car. Depending on the type of car you have the engine may be in the front or back of your car. This will dictate which tires to block off. It is important to understand this so that you can know whether you can get away with blocking off only the two front tires, two back tires, or if blocking off all four tires would be necessary. Please feel free to add a comment if you have questions!
Solution Descriptions and How to Use
Owl Box: This is hands down THE most effective and environmentally friendly way of taking care of this rat problem. Sounds crazy, right? But it works! Owls can eat 2-3 rats per night (up to 2,000 per year)!
How to Use: Essentially, you just put up the owl box, make sure the entrance is facing north (assuming you live in the Northern hemisphere; face the box south if you live in the Southern Hemisphere), and wait. In extreme cases, it can take up to two years for the owls to find these boxes, so you should have a backup plan for this gap period (see below: Rat Snap Traps, Leave Your Hood Up, and Bright Lights..do not use rat poison!) Once found, the owl box will be used as a home year after year. Putting up the owl box in late winter to spring (owl mating season) will yield the highest chance of scoring a few hooters (or clickers, for barn owls). If you seek this option, there are a few different routes you can go:
- Purchase a pre-made barn owl box (Barn Owl Nesting Box Large House Crafted in USA. JCs Wildlife) or an owl box kit (JCs Wildlife Barn Owl Nesting Box Do It Yourself Assembly Kit). If you choose this option, here is a great resource for more information on how to best set it up.
- Separately, there are some professional services out there that you can go through to purchase and setup a box. The service you go through may largely depend on where you are located in the US. These will be pretty expensive, but the process is hands-off. Please let me know if you need help in finding a vendor.
For more information, please see the article Why Get an Owl Box.
Snap Trap: As mentioned previously this is a MUST have to initially block off the entrances to your car and stop the problem dead in it’s tracks (no pun intended haha). Now there are many traps to choose from but I am a huge fan of the Tomcat Rat Snap Trap. I have had some solid success with these executing the enemy. Here is a short video to show optimum placement:
How to use: The Tomcat Rat snap traps are extremely easy to use and I don’t feel endangered every time I set the trap, unlike the classic wooden bar traps. To be most effective with these types of traps you need to place them at specific spots. When the rat approaches your car, it will look to climb up the tread of your tire in order gain access to the engine compartment. I would purchase 6 of these total per car. Three of these will be placed strategically on/around the front 2 tires: place one on top of each tire, one in front of each tire at the base, and one in back of each tire at the base. And when I say “front” and “back”, I mean at the base of the tread. See picture above.
For more information, please see the article What Are The Best Rat Traps?
Poison Bait Station (“restaurants”): These stations can perform very well and can kill many generations of rodents due to the slow acting nature of the poison. As mentioned previously these should not be used in combination with an Owl Box or a Cat.
How to Use: In order to be effective with these, you really need to think like the rat. Rats are very cautious and will only eat tiny bits of the poison first, but that is assuming they even enter your restaurant. It is very important that you place the entrance(s) to these restaurants, along the normal walking path of the rat so that they go right in without even noticing. A common tactic is to place the restaurant right around corners so that the rat turns the corner and goes right in, but you also want to have one at least along a wall. In order to determine the rat’s normal walking path, look for signs of rat droppings, urine (with a black light), chewed up bits of things, and chew marks on obstacles along that path. These poisons typically have an anticoagulation agent that causes the rat to slowly have internal bleeding. This slow effect of working (typically 4 days to 2 weeks) helps to fool the rat that this food may be safe. In the process of this, the rat may have already marked the poison as safe by peeing on it and other rats will follow suit. The key to choosing a restaurant box is that there are entrances on both sides so that no matter what direction the rat is running along the wall, they will be running into the box. I would also advise against a box that they can run straight through because they can just carry on their merry way. You want to place the entrances to the restaurant as close to the wall as you can. My personal preference in choosing a bait box is a diamond shaped bait box such as the Protecta LP Rat Bait Station. The diamond shape fits nice in corners or along walls, it has two entrances and it is not a straight walk through. It also has an automatic lock on it that requires a key to open it back up. This is super important to have, especially if you have small kids or a dog. When choosing a poison to use, due to EPA regulations as a consumer, you are pretty much limited to first generation anticoagulants so anything containing chlorpophacinone, diphacinone or warfarin will do. I would say go with JT Eaton Bait Block Rodenticide Anticoagulant Bait, Peanut Butter Flavor. If you believe the rats are resistant to these first generation anticoagulants (if the bait keeps getting eaten but you are still seeing signs of more rat activity) you can also try a bromethalin based poison which is more of a direct toxin.
For more information on how to best use, please see the article Perfect Poison Bait Station Placement.
Cat: Cats are natural killing machines when it comes to rodents. My research shows that they are 86% effective as a stand alone solution to dealing with rodent issues. This means that you should seriously consider getting a cat as an option. This solution brings along with it the biggest long term and on-going commitment. Just be aware that cats can’t live on rats alone.
How to use: Purchase one and watch the magic unfold. Feed cat food and water when necessary. Pet from time to time. Say “thank you” when it presents a rat head on your door mat.
Electric Rat Trap: These types of traps can be a great option for indoor areas. If you park your car in a car port or inside your garage, I would certainly consider using one of these.
How to use: Just like the restaurants, these will only be effective if they are placed along the rat’s habitual path. My father in law has had great success with these purely due to great placement. Identify the path, and place accordingly. My father in law swears by his Victor M240 but there are many other options out there that should work exactly the same. Here is a link that can help you in your search.
Spray/Odor: The three main products that fall within this category are Moth Balls, Peppermint Oil, and Dryer Sheets. It is commonly misperceived how effective these household remedies can be as stand alone solutions. My research shows that ultimately, you have about a 30% success rate if any one of these solutions is used by itself. This is why it is super important that a spray/odor be used in combination with other solutions. See the articles Do Moth Balls, Peppermint Oil, and Dryer Sheets Work?” and How Effective Is Rat Repellent? for more information.
How to use: Essentially, using a spray or odor should be thought of as a tool to confuse the rat over the safety of their surroundings. Rats pee on everything in order to mark it as safe and when they cannot detect the smell of their urine, they feel unsafe. When using a spray, I would initially spray a ring around the entire car. That way no matter what direction the rat is coming from, they will get a whiff of this unfamiliar smell (which they don’t like!). If you want to maximize your spray, I would say just spray a ring around the front two tires. Rodent Defense: All Natural Rodent Repellent Against Vehicle Wiring is a spray that is specifically made to prevent rodents from chewing on your car wires. You can spray this directly into the engine compartment and on the wires themselves in addition to around the outside of the car. It is essentially a mix of water, peppermint oil, garlic oil and a few other natural oils. Rats also like to stay away from areas if they detect the urine of predators. This predator urine can be used to spray around your car, though be careful not to get any in your car or in your garage due to the smell. I know that there are coyotes in my area so I would probably use something like that, but I don’t have any specific brands to recommend.
Flash Light: Since rats prefer to be sneaky and stay concealed, they will always avoid taking paths that expose them to light.
How to use: One method that I have used is simply taking a pack of 4 led flash lights and having 2 of them shine on the tread of each front tire at night. This ensures that if the rat wants to climb that tire tread it will need to do so in the spot light. Alternatively, you can just have one bright flashlight shine underneath the car at night. You can also combine with the method below and hang a flashlight from your hood so that it shines into the engine compartment at night.
Pop Car Hood Up: This is a simple maneuver that takes away the shelter from the rat at night. I would absolutely implement this method right away. One of the reasons the rats go into the engine compartment is to take advantage of the heat from the engine and leaving the hood up allows the engine to cool off more quickly. This technique will also serve to help break the habit of the rat going into your engine compartment.
How to use: Every night before dusk, pop your car hood up. It’s that simple.
Ultrasonic Repeller: These devices emit a frequency that are unattractive to the rats ear. They serve to annoy the rat more than anything. You will see very good reviews of these, but if you look at the reviews more closely, most of the people had other pest problems. These things can work great initially, but rats can get used to the noise. This is one of those items that you can’t rely on by itself as a solution, but it can help in changing the habits of the rat. After exploring the other solutions I would only consider using one of these as a final cherry on top.
How to use: The useage of this solution depends on where you park your car. If you you park your car outside, I would suggest getting one that hooks up under your hood and connects to your car battery. If you park your car in the garage, you can get much more creative with these and just put one in each outlet in the garage.
Professional Exterminator: Since you are on this website, I believe you were looking to exhaust your DIY options before calling in a professional, but ultimately this isn’t a bad solution. Due to EPA restrictions on consumers, some of the more highly effective poisons are only available to professional exterminators. This certainly does give them a leg up, but you should expect to pay a monthly fee. To help determine whether an exterminator is needed, see article Why Hire an Exterminator.
How to use: Google “exterminators near me”. Call the one with the best reviews.
I want you to know that we are in this battle together and I can certainly be a resource for you! I hope that the information I have provided has been helpful. It seems more and more people are starting to have this problem and it is important to take action ASAP. Please leave a comment to let me know how these solutions are working for you and/or if you have any questions. Thank you!
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
Important disclosures: The author of this website is not responsible for the use or misuse of any product or similar product referenced on this website. Please follow the instructions provided with any product purchased.