Motorists have been warned about the danger of rats or mice getting inside cars parked up during Covid-19.
The owner of a two-year-old Mercedes-Benz who hadn’t used his car for three weeks found rodents had eaten through wiring under the engine causing thousands of euro worth of damage.
AA Roadwatch said pest control experts Rentokil, received 518 calls between April 2020 and March 2021 relating to rodent activity in vehicles in Ireland.
And an auto repair business said the number of cases of rodent activity in vehicles across its three outlets in Counties Galway, Wexford and Dublin doubled since last November.
Managed Automotive Repair Network Limited said damage to a two year old BMW cost almost €5,500 to repair.
The damage included chewed trims around the engine bay, chewed wiring, tears in the seats and carpet and the vehicle also required decontamination.
Other damage involved rats eating the washer tubing to the headlight or the screen washers to get to a supply of water.
AA Roadwatch said engines are dry, warm and undisturbed and so provide an ideal shelter for breeding, resting or feeding these creatures.
Spokesperson Anna Cullen added: "If they do decide to nest, rodents can cause significant damage to your vehicle
"As well as these risks, the creatures can chew through wiring harnesses causing short circuits, they can chew through coolant pipes or they can get stuck behind dashboards.
The tears or scratching from the creatures can ruin the interior surfaces and droppings, mouldy food or decomposing creatures can lead to very unpleasant smells."
If rodents have been present, Rentokil recommends a full pest disinfection of the vehicle to neutralise any potential pathogens such as bacteria and viruses.
Insecticidal treatment may also be required as rodents carry parasites such as fleas, lice, mites and ticks.
To deter rodents, it is best to remove any food sources or nesting materials from your vehicle.
According to Rentokil, mice are able to fit through a gap that is larger than 5mm in circumference and a common rat can fit through any gap of 20mm circumference or more.
If possible, keep your vehicle in a sealed garage.
If rodents do manage to get into your engine, then you should try your best to make it very difficult for them to nest. This can be done by spraying deterrent smells, by using bright lights, noise boxes with low frequency or by putting some cat litter or pet hair inside the vehicle.