Beware the rat pack

Rat
MINI Coupe Cooper SD, front

THERE IS no doubt about it, there are some tasty sets of wheels out there.

And some are just too tasty, especially to rodents.

An incident was brought to my attention this week in which a MINI Coupe had been attacked by rodents, probably rats, causing hundreds of pounds worth of damage.

The culprits had gained access underneath the car and stripped insulation from wiring and damaged the wiring itself.

I had heard of this problem previously when a fleet of vehicles stored in a former aircraft hangar had been attacked in a similar fashion.

Back in the 1960s and 70s such incidents were rare because materials used in cars such as old fashioned plastic and carbon just did not taste nice to creatures.

However, with the rise of eco-thinking and the quest of manufacturers to reduce their carbon footprint, some innovative use of green-based materials may have opened to door a little wider to guests who are definitely not welcome to dinner.

Of all the rodents, rats are the major problem.

But contrary to the common belief, they do not eat wiring for food.

Rodents gnaw constantly, to sharpen and keep the length of their teeth in check.

A rat's tooth enamel is 5.5 on Mohs hardness scale. Aluminum, now favorite material for electrical connections, is 2.5; copper is a three and even Iron rates as four. (Diamond is ten and talc is rated as one.)

So cutting through a wiring harness is no challenge to any rat.

All that said, if you were rodent would you prefer to chew on material made from indigestible petroleum plastic, or a sweet smelling one made from green-sourced material?

Search as I might I cannot come up with a sure-fire solution, except to park away from food bins, woodlands and derelict buildings.

Having a cat on patrol in the driveway helps and there are the usual wacky and daft solutions being bandied around like hanging a bag of mothballs under the bonnet or taping tufts of cat hair in strategic places.

There are also electronic ultrasound devices on the market that claim to deter the rat pack.

But until manufacturers come up with something that makes cars smell and taste absolutely ghastly to animals it will be an ongoing problem.

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