Saturday, December 27, 2014

Rats! [Part 2]

Life was good in late November. The Thanksgiving holiday added a few extra days onto the weekend. The rodents were gone going on ten days now. My plan of attack of Critter Ridder & Moth Balls had worked.

All was good until that Sunday morning.  Earlier in the morning, I had run some errands. I came back to shower and prepare to meet some friends for brunch. We walked out to my car around 11.

I started up the car as Nick put some items in the trunk. Then I heard and felt a thud from the front of the car. Puzzled, I looked in my rear view mirror where I could see Nick's face. Nick had a look of shock on his face. He then yelled for me. I rolled down the window so I could hear him. "It was a rat, this big..." he said, distancing the palms of his hands more than a foot apart.

I screamed and then turned off the car. We stood at the hood of the car and discussed what to do. We needed to open the hood. We knew that's what we need to do, but didn't know what to expect once we opened it. I grabbed two pair of gloves, a Jewel bag, a spray bottle of all-purpose cleaner (to clean up or stun a rat, potentially) and a stick.

We regrouped at the car and planned our strategy. I popped the hood and then chickened out. I looked to Nick to unlatch the hood and open it. As he opened the hood, we saw something similar to what we'd seen online -

A rat was trying to make it's forever home in my car. Again.

We cleared the nest the rat had created from the hood liner of my car to see damage (once again) to my engine wires.

Luckily, we had caught the rat in the act and scared it away before it caused any serious damage. As we continued to assess the damage, I began crying. Why does this happen? Why was this happening to my car?

More internet research followed. We now knew what we could only guess before - the culprit was, in fact, a rat. We had thought it was a rat from seeing them in my alley, but others had suggested a squirrel or mouse could be responsible.

I read up on rats nesting habits and it sounded like I was in trouble. Until the rat(s) who found comfort under my hood died, they were likely to come back to my car, again and again. Like other animals, rats leave their scent where ever they go, and so, my car had been marked.

I started parking my car out on a the street and few blocks away from my condo (and hopefully out of range of the rats who lived in my alley).

I went back to Home Depot and purchased two more rodent deterrent products - amonia and Repels-All. Repels-All main ingredient is '"animal blood" and man, does it stink. This seemed like a reasonable thing to buy as a few friends had suggested other animal liquids to keep the rats away.

Not throughly convinced my new rodent deterrent products would work with zero error, I decided to keep parking my car on the street, rotating it's location each day.

I called 311 again. I emailed 311. I asked all my neighbors to email 311. I emailed my alderman. I couldn't help but tell everyone about the rat who was eating my car.

I waited and hoped someone, anyone could help.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Rats! [Part 1]

Normally, I write about running, training or yoga.

Lately, my focus has changed over to the official animal of the City of Chicago and everyone's enemy, the rat.

Why would I talk about rats? Rats are gross.


A few weeks ago, I was driving my relatively-new, barely-driven car. I noticed it was running rough. I dismissed the hard idle to the cold temperatures that morning. Later that day, I drove my car to yoga. That's when my check engine light went on and the car's issues became more pronounced.

I called roadside and had the car towed to a nearby dealership. Puzzled, I called my Dad and told him what was going on. He thought the car's on-board computer might be on the fritz.

The next day, the service department called me with an update on my car. "The good news is, we know what's wrong with your car." The service man said. "The bad news is, it's not covered under warranty."

The service man then went on to explain that some sort of rodent - a squirrel, mouse or rat, had chewed through three of the four fuel injector lines. It could be fixed, but parts and labor would be $400. I authorized him to perform the work.

Shortly after, I began googling rodents in car engine and saw images like this -

What the....? This happens to people? Why are they choosing my car? What can I do to prevent it?

I continue reading sites and ask my Facebook friends for advice.

On the day that I picked my car up from the dealership, I immediately head to Home Depot. I talk to an employee who refers me to the rodent control section of the store. I purchase moth balls and Critter Ridder.

I drive home and park in my parking space and grab a pair of surgical gloves from the kitchen.

I distribute the Critter Ridder power along the parameter of my parking spot, creating a first line of defense.

I then cut down an old box and use duct tape construction for a moth ball tray to slide underneath my car.

Satisfied with my Google education and Home Depot purchases, I begin to feel more at ease knowing I've taken measures to prevent future attacks.

Even if my car now smelled like moth balls and pepper.