Unused Cars Are Becoming Animal Havens Amid COVID-19

Experts recommend checking under your hood for signs of animals throughout the pandemic.

While you've been sheltering in place, your car isn't exactly going unused. It turns that all kinds of critters are turning vehicles into their homes.

Wildlife experts say, parked cars make perfect homes for small animals, and their favorite place to hide is under the hood. One squirrel recently took up residence inside the air filter of Zak Mertz's sedan. Mertz just happens to be a wildlife expert and executive director of the Cape Wildlife Center. 

"Today we are getting our hands dirty under the hood of a car dealing with a situation that has become very common these days, and that is squirrels in the engine," Mertz said. "We have taken chipmunks out of cars, a lot of mice, rats, and I even seen raccoons living in the engine of cars."

Mertz was finally able to coax the squirrel out with mixed nuts. Rats and mice also like to hide out in cars, and often chew the wiring because it tastes good, according to experts.

Paul Barletta from Swat Team Animal Pest Control in New Jersey says that many car wires are wrapped in a sweet-tasting soy coating that attracts rodents. When they eat through them, it can cause tremendous damage. 

To keep your car safe during COVID-19, Barletta recommends checking under your hood often for any evidence of animals. He also says that using lavender spray around the tire wheels can act as a deterrent.

If you find a critter in your car, don't try to remove it yourself. The best thing to do is call a wildlife or humane pest control professional.