On some backpacking trips a car could be left for a couple of weeks, what can I do to ensure that when I return the mice aren't inside and the squirrels are leaving the wiring alone?

  • 3
    All the times I've parked my truck in the backcountry and left it, I've never once worried about animals getting into it, or heard anyone ever mention it before.
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 4:46
  • 3
    @Liam The six wires and vacuum hoses that I am splicing after some squirrels got in :) Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 14:56
  • 2
    @ShemSeger At some California trailheads marmots are so bad people circle their cars with chicken wire. Here's an example patagonia.com/blog/2010/08/marmots-and-men They are apparently attracted by anti-freeze but chew wires, too, in their search for it. I'd guess you could try some kind scent product that is a predator to rodents.
    – topshot
    Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 15:44
  • 2
    I suspect the rangers would be having a nice chat with you then. ;)
    – topshot
    Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 19:15
  • 2
    We had a problem with a rat once -- he took all our freeze dried food and all our maps. Human rat.
    – ab2
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 1:07

1 Answer 1


Stop coating your wires with peanut butter!

In all seriousness though, squirrels can and will eat wires. However this is a very unlikely occurrence, as noted by ShemSeger in comments. I have known exactly ONE person it ever happened to and the car was at their house, not a trail head.

You could discourage most pests by putting mothballs in your engine compartment (after it has cooled). Of course mothballs are toxic and it would be vitally important to remove them before you drive away lest you poison yourself on the fumes. Most other rodent deterrents are lethal (traps, bait) and it would be pretty unethical IMO to use those in this situation.

Outdoor activities all have risks and you have to weight the likelyhood of the risk coming to fruition against the cost and effort of prevention.

  • Chili can be used to deter rodents in some situations (e.g. bird seed) and is non toxic. I've seen a spray product but can't remember what it was sold for. You would want to make sure it doesn't come out of your air vents while driving of course.
    – Chris H
    Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 19:09
  • when my dog was a puppy, we used to left her in the garage during the day. One day she discovered she could nibble the fluid hose of the front break of the motorbike. I saw it one evening and next morning I put some peri peri sauce around the place she was nibbling only to discover her liking the sauce minute later. :)
    – Desorder
    Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 20:38
  • @ChrisH -- I've had mixed results with chili. I once coated my entire porch in powdered cayenne only to find rodent tracks in it the next day :/ Commented Oct 4, 2016 at 21:32
  • 1
    I've used mothballs in boat engines and other closed compartments, where the boat was sitting on land for a few months on an island with a rat problem. Never had anything nesting in or chewing on the mothballed engine. People who didn't take precautions usually did have chewed wires.
    – Karen
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 2:00
  • Dryer sheets are also a deterrent to rodents and a bit less toxic than mothballs. I use them in my electric car. Rodents love the warmth that comes from the charging batteries so it is very difficult to keep rodent free.
    – David
    Commented Oct 5, 2016 at 17:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.