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Mice & My Spark Plug Wires

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Pesky Mice

Have you ever had your spark plug wires chewed in half by mice?

I have.

Not once, but on four separate occasions within about six weeks during the winter of 2009. I replaced my spark plugs wires four times! Some might assume that I'm talking about some occasional driver that sits parked up 9 months out of the year in a musky garage or something. That is not the case. This was my 2004 daily driver.

The first time it happened I had no idea what was wrong with my car. I went out, started it up and it ran horribly. Since the car was still under warranty, I had a wrecker tow it to the dealership. To my horror, they called to tell me that I had been the victim of a hungry rodent. I was so embarrassed. A field mouse had eaten through two of the four wires. A friend met me at the dealership to follow me and we went down the road and fixed it ourselves. I wasn't paying the dealership to fix that.

Little did I know that 10 days later that set was chewed through as well. This time I knew exactly what it was when my car started up sounding rather rough. I opened the hood to confirm my suspicion. I got another set of wires and replaced them again.

Both times this situation caused me to be late to work. I took in the chewed up wires to show my boss and others. Some of them doubted that it was even possible.

I begin to research ways I might be able to keep the mice from doing it again. I live on 27 acres and my car is parked in a carport. There was really no effective way to throw out poison because of the two dogs from next door that wander around on my property. I wondered if I could apply something to my spark-plug wires that would make mice leave them alone. Some suggested hot sauce, jalapeno juice, Vaseline, etc. Some mentioned wrapping the wires with aluminum foil. I wasn't sure if any of these were a good idea with my car still under warranty. I didn't want something to catch on fire, or have some type of reaction with the rubber, etc. I wanted to find some other option.

After replacing my wires for the fourth time, a friend's husband suggested I purchase a product used by race car drivers that they put on their spark plug wires to keep them from melting in the extreme heat situations in their cars. Off I went to the auto store to ask for such a product. I had no idea what to call it, but I explained my situation. The gentleman at the first auto store laughed at me and told me he had no idea what would help that situation and mentioned setting traps. I left there. The next auto store was much more helpful. The clerk took me to a wall of racing products to see if we could find something that would work. I finally find a length of material that is heat resistant that looked mesh-like enough and coarse enough that I though I might be able to put it around each wire and the mice wouldn't be able to easily chew through them. Seems like the product cost me about $16. Sure beat the cost of another set of spark plug wires!

I went home and first had to cut the material down the entire length since it was too narrow to fit over the end caps on the spark plug wires. I then cut the piece to fit each wire since some wires are shorter than the others. Then, carefully and meticulously, one by one, I sewed little sleeves to cover each wire. I put the wires back on my car and (knock on wood) I haven't had a mouse chew through it since then.

One of many spark plug wires that the mice chewed through this past winter.

One of many spark plug wires that the mice chewed through this past winter.

Mice and the House

We did experience a mouse problem in our house this past winter as well. Having no indoor pets (we trained Pooter and Gilbert, our goldfish to stay in their tank) we were able to put out traps, poison packets, and poison blocks. It took time, but we did eventually get rid of them.

One thing you need to know about the poisons, if your dog ingests the rat poison, give him a cap full of peroxide to induce vomitting. I learned that recently and wrote a hub about it.

It was reported in our local media that this year that this was the worst year they've seen in 20 years for rodent infestation. Some theorize that we'll see a rise in the snake population this next year. Yike's I hope not!

Common Questions

Question: What baits work best for mouse traps?

Answer: For trapping mice, experts recommend using peanut butter, chocolate, oats or nesting materials such as cotton or string. For rats they recommend using peanut butter, small bits of bacon, fruits, vegetables, cereals or meats. I've caught quite a few using can cheese since it applies similarly as peanut butter. Having to vigorously lick it to get it off usually will trigger the trap.

Question: Where should I place my mouse trap?

Answer: Place traps perpendicular to the wall since that is their normal path. This requires them to step through the trap if they want to continue scurrying through along the wall. They have been known to jump them though. Sometimes two traps along the same path work well. For Rats, experts recommend that you leave an unset trap out for a few days before baiting it and setting it so that the rat gets used to. Mice are evidently more curious than rats.

Question: What do you do if the bait is gone, but the trap didn't go off?

Answer: Try using a smaller amount of bait and push it into the holding spot better. You want them to have to work to get it off. I remember when I was a child, my dad would take thread and wrap it around the cheese to hold it on better. The sting also causes them to tug at the trap often setting it off.

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Question: What is the most common mistake people make in trying to treat a rodent problem?

Answer: Usually people stop before all the mice are eliminated and the remaining mice continue to breed and multiply. Don't underestimate the number of mice. As long as you're still seeing droppings, see one scurry out of the corner of your eye, or you hear them gnawing or scratching, you've still got a problem.

Question: How can you free a pet's paw from a glue trap?

Answer: Vegetable oil will dissolve the glue. Coat the area and it should dissolve. Rinse with mild soap and warm water.

This Is the Best Indoor Mousetrap I've Found!


bradnewtown on April 29, 2010:

It looked like it took some time for that mouse to die. I guess it's faster than glue traps, but I think electronic traps are the most humane lethal trap since they instantly kill the mice with an electronical shock.

Here's an example of one:

KRC (author) from Central Texas on March 08, 2010:

Thanks Killrats!

killrats from Cape town South Africa on March 07, 2010:

I can relate to your problem. My blog Rats cause millions in damage. They are costing us a huge amount every day not is damage but also the huge amount of food they eat.

Baits that we find work well are Sunflower seed, peanut butter on bread, cotten wool soaked in red wine, avo's tomato's, chicken bones, but you can try almost anything if it has a smell that will not fade quickly.

Will follow to see if you win.

KRC (author) from Central Texas on July 27, 2009:

OMG....chewing up A/C stuff would be horrible! No doubt it was expensive! Imagine fixing it and having to fix over and over again! Yikes!

EverythingMouse on July 27, 2009:

I had mice chew my air conditioning up in my car once. An expensive thing!

KRC (author) from Central Texas on July 27, 2009:

I've never seen anything like it, Jerilee. I sure hope things are back to normal this year. Thanks for stopping by.

Jerilee Wei from United States on July 27, 2009:

I've had my own mice woes and wars back on our farm. Thought I'd escape that when we moved to the big city, well, they are here too. LOL

KRC (author) from Central Texas on July 26, 2009:

That's the thing, Marty...I guess I should have added this to the hub, but I've lived on this parcel of land for 28 years and I have never had a problem with mice like that before. This year was just horrible. My ex-husband had a family of mice take up residence in his truck and had the same problem you experienced. Glad to know you sent them packing on the side of the highway! LOL

Mardi Winder-Adams from Western Canada and Texas on July 26, 2009:

Must be another Texas thing KCC. I have always lived in the country but have never had mouse problems with the engine until I moved here. I didn't have a spark plug wire attack, but I did have a horrible odor in my car. I was driving down the road with the windows open to get rid of the smell, when I opened the glove box to get a map. Inside was a mother mouse and a bunch of babies, all in an nest of shredded road maps, insurance papers and who knows what.

Later that same month a mouse chewed the alternator belt and I had to get that replaced, may have been revenge for dumping the nest out on the side of the highway!

KRC (author) from Central Texas on July 26, 2009:

Thanks emohealer...I didn't know that about the vegetable oil either until I did the research for this hub. It is handy to know.

Sioux Ramos from South Carolina on July 26, 2009:

That is crazy, I live deep in the woods and have never heard of such, but then I keep a cat around. Great advice, especially on how to get something unstuck you didn't intend to "catch".

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