Valley rats gnawing car parts as they find shelter from rain

Valley rats gnawing car parts as they find shelter from rain.

The wet weather is creating big problems for some drivers, but it's rats that are doing the damage.

Patrick Anderson brought his Toyota Camry into Desert Car Care of Chandler.

"I said, 'It looks like somebody ate my car,'" Anderson said.

Anderson said first, his temperature gauge wasn't going up anymore. Next, his windshield wiper fluid began flashing and showing empty. 

"That's when I opened up the hood to refill it and saw the damage," Anderson said.

There were two fluid reservoir containers and exposed wiring that apparently had been gnawed through.

"I was just astounded," Anderson said.

Frank Leutz, owner of Desert Car Care Center of Chandler, said he knew what it was as soon as he saw it.

"All because of rats," he said.

Leutz said there's been an uptick in cars coming in with gnawed parts in the past five years, and especially when it rains. This week, Leutz' mechanics are working on two cars that rats have sunk their teeth into. Leutz believes it's because automakers got away from petroleum-based products.

"So we're seeing sugar, we're seeing corn, all into this recycling end of the automotive vehicle," Leutz said.

Very appealing for rats, but not necessarily for food.

The rats are keeping their teeth from growing too much, according to John Townsend, the Vector Control Division Manager for the Maricopa County Environmental Services Department.

"Their teeth never stop growing so that kind of rubs their teeth down and keeps them sharp too," Townsend said.

Townsend said he's not familiar with Patrick's situation, but said it's likely a roof rat because those type of rodents are so common here and they're not afraid to be around people.

Townsend said rodent complaints are going up for the last three years during rodent season. There were 198 calls from Sept. 2015 to Jan. 2016.  For the same time period beginning in 2014, there were 130 calls and in 2013, 107 calls.

Townsend said the numbers do tend to fluctuate, so it doesn't necessarily mean there will be a bigger rodent problem this year.

Townsend said right now the rodent population is thriving in the rain from the extra vegetation and fruit, but not necessarily wanting to be in it.

"They'll try to find a dry spot," Townsend said.

As for Patrick, he said he was lucky he caught the problems before it got really bad, so it'll cost him a few hundred versus a few thousand.

Experts say to prevent this from happening, leave your hood open if you can and light up the area.


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