Automobile critters: As chilly approaches, rodents are looking for out autos for heat and storage


RICHFELD, Minn. – When temperatures drop, animals look for places to keep warm or store their food for the winter.

In Richfield, Jill Ruiz is used to seeing walnuts strewn about her garden. She has a large, old walnut tree that produces many nuts that fall in the fall.

“Apparently the red squirrels like the walnuts,” Ruiz said.

On Tuesday morning, Ruiz went for a routine oil change. Her mechanic found quite a surprise in her hood – about 100 walnuts.

“They just kept coming and I kept digging down and just found a lot of stuff in there,” she said.

Pulling out the walnuts, she also found a face mask and a bird feather, all embedded in her car. She suspects that squirrels buried the food in it before winter. She’d only had her disc fluid topped up a few weeks ago, so she said it must have been quick.


Jill Ruiz

According to Dan Lennon of Dan’s Penn Auto Care, Ruiz’s experience isn’t the most surprising discovery in vehicles.

“One time this guy’s fan wasn’t working or the blower motor wasn’t working and we went to take the dash out and probably about 400 dog bones came out,” Lennon said

When the weather gets cooler, mice also move into warm cars and build nests from pieces inside.

“It’s free rent for the mice, you know?” said Lennon.

He said rodents in vehicles can cost car owners thousands, depending on the damage.

“We’ve seen some with whole wiring harnesses being chewed up. There are some to the point where the car is totaled,” he said.

Most mice are deterred by certain smells, including Bounty dryer towels, mothballs, and even essential oils like peppermint.

“Mice don’t like that fresh smell, and if we take care of them and get rid of them, as long as they keep doing that, the mice usually won’t come back,” he said.

Kirsten Mitchell