After tripping a motion sensor camera, a rat under the hood of a Vernon, B.C. vehicle is seen trying to scurry away, but has trouble navigating the vehicle parts.
The footage was captured by an Okanagan driver who put a portable security camera under the hood after repeated trips to the mechanic for rodent damage.
“The rat was a lot bigger than I expected,” laughed mechanic Mike Vasconcelos.
However, what didn’t surprise Vasconcelos was the damage the rodent had caused.
The Vernon auto shop owner said he’s been seeing a major increase in vehicles coming in with this type of damage in the last year.
“We used to see it every year. When it started to get cold, you would start to see the odd one,” said Vasconcelos.
“The increase we’ve seen in this last year or so has been 10 times what we would normally see.”
The damage can range from minor to extensive. Mechanics will come across dead rodents and nests, as well as damage from the animals chewing on vehicle components.
It’s difficult, however, to verify whether or not the issue is getting worse. ICBC, the province’s public auto insurer, doesn’t track rodent-related claims.
While a half-dozen other local auto shops contacted by Global News hadn’t noticed an increase in the ongoing pest problem, the owner of a Vernon pest control business said he’s been getting more rat calls lately.
“They are just taking over the Okanagan from what I’m seeing,” said Peter Sidorczuk, who operates Guardian Pest Control.
Sidorczuk said those living near food and water sources are especially at risk, and everyday things like fruit trees, bird feeders and dog food can feed the pests.
“They multiply very fast,” Sidorczuk said.
Besides cleaning up potential attractants, his advice for proactive vehicle owners is to try warding rats off with scents.
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“You could do something like peppermint oil around your car,” he said.
“It’s a deterrent to them. They have very good sense of smell and very good memory, so if they go to an area and they smell something that they don’t like, they typically won’t come back.”
However, the pest control operator admits rodents are a difficult problem for drivers, because the furry creatures can get in through an opening as small as a quarter.
“About a dime they can get their teeth in there, chew a hole and their teeth don’t stop growing, so they have to keep chewing and that’s why they cause so much damage,” Sidorczuk said.
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