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Car critters: As cold approaches, rodents are seeking out vehicles for warmth and storage

Car critters: Rodents seeking out vehicles for warmth, storage
Car critters: Rodents seeking out vehicles for warmth, storage 01:57

RICHFIELD, Minn. – As temperatures fall, critters are looking for spaces to keep warm or store their food for winter.

In Richfield, Jill Ruiz is used to seeing walnuts scattered in her yard. She has a large, old walnut tree that produces many nuts that fall during autumn.

"Apparently the red squirrels like the walnuts," Ruiz said.

On Tuesday morning, Ruiz went to get a routine oil change. Her mechanic discovered quite a surprise inside her hood – about 100 walnuts.

"They just kept on coming and I was digging down further and further, and just found a ton of stuff in there," she said.

She pulled the walnuts out and also found a face mask, and a bird feather all nestled inside her car. She suspects squirrels were burying the food inside ahead of the winter. She had just refilled her windshield fluid a few weeks ago so she said it must have happened fast.

Jill Ruiz

Ruiz's experience is not the most surprising discovery found inside vehicles, according to Dan Lennon of Dan's Penn Auto Care.

"One time this guy's fan didn't work or the blower motor didn't work and we went to take the dash out and probably about 400 dog bones came out," Lennon said

As the weather cools, mice are also moving into warm cars and forming nests using pieces inside.

"It's free rent for the mice, you know?" Lennon said.

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

"We've seen some that the whole wiring harnesses have been chewed up. There's some to the point where the car gets totaled from it," he said.

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

"Mice don't like that fresh smell, and usually when we take care of them and get rid of them the mice don't come back as long as they maintain that," he said.

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