Why are more and more rats taking up residence in New York cars – Earth – Science and technology

New Yorker Libby Denault has been driving her Prius to the same car repair shop in Brooklyn for eight years, and they have always done it quickly and reliably. Last January, however, the mechanics at the Urban Classics car repair shop were at their wits end: The warning “check the engine” was still flashing on the dashboard, although the car had no problems, writes the news server (NYT).

“They did a lot of tests, but they still couldn’t figure out what it was,” says Denault. But in the end, they managed to find the source of the problems – a rat that chewed through the sensor wire. The repair cost her $700.

Rats or rats that deal under the hoods of cars are nothing new to New Yorkers. But in the past two years, many New York repair shops have seen a significant increase in drivers blaming rodents for car problems. According to some mechanics, the number of similar cases has doubled during the covid pandemic.

“I’m seeing new and old cars, they’re all coming in now with rat problems,” said Hell’s Kitchen mechanic Ozzy Dayan. “I get a lot of business because of it, but it’s disgusting.”

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It was covid that could have played a role in this to some extent. New Yorkers bought more cars during the pandemic — new car registrations increased 19 percent between 2019 and 2021, according to data provided by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. And more cars mean more nesting opportunities for rodents.

Brooklyn-based designer Jenna Carpenter-Moyes bought a used car in May 2020 to get around the city during the pandemic. When she went to the Hudson Valley, she noticed that the engine was “breathing” when going uphill. “The ‘check engine’ light came on. So I took the car to my mechanic, who opened the hood and found chicken bones, bread and a piece of bacon, egg and cheese sandwich,” she said. She paid $1,200 to have the car repaired and cleaned, but since then she’s been fighting a constant battle to keep rats or rats from having a picnic under its hood.

“I used a lot of peppermint oil,” she added. According to folk recipes, the smell of mint repels a whole range of animals, such as mice, rats, cockroaches or ants. Rats have also increased during the pandemic, or at least more New Yorkers have complained about them.

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“When the lockdown started, the rats lost access to their usual food sources,” says Dr. Michael Parsons, a research scientist at Fordham University and an expert on urban rats and rats. Like other New Yorkers, these rodents had to improvise and adapt.

“Rats can adapt very quickly to changes in human behavior,” notes Fordham biology professor Jason Munshi-South, who conducted the research with Dr. Parsons. “So when the pandemic changed our behavior, it also affected rats and rats.” The rodents, which usually stayed close to food sources, began to take more risks, such as brazenly darting toward piles of garbage bags and other potential feeding sites.

But lately, when human behavior has returned to something close to normal, rats and mice have not gone back to their old ways, they’ve just expanded their tactics. They also rummage through trash and run off with pieces of pizza, and they may also exhibit rare and unusual behaviors more often, such as attacking and feasting on other urban animals such as pigeons and even other rats, Dr. Parsons says.

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According to Dr. Parsons, the increased activity of rats in cars and everywhere else is a symptom of wider social problems. “Our habits determine how many rodents there are in our area,” he said. “All those smells coming from the trash bags, the trash and the crumbs — that’s enough to get things going. We need to change the way we think about how we care for our environment. Then we will be able to get rid of the rats,” he added.

Source: Pravda – Veda a technika by vat.pravda.sk.

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