Ok – The title gives away the punch line, but you will not believe this story!
We moved to the sunshine state a year ago and it is a really nice to place to retire. We don’t have snowy winters and bitter cold. We do things like play golf and pickleball and go to happy hours (previously known as early bird specials).
The flora in this tropical paradise is a lot different from New York where I spent most of my life. In fact, there are approximately 2,600 species of palm trees which could grow in Florida as well as huge numbers of tropical plants and flowers which thrive here and provide homes for many critters.
Speaking of critters, we have a few different fauna new to me. At the beach I love to see the dolphins and manatees swimming near the shore. So cool. Last week I saw odd looking ghost crabs digging holes near me as I sat on the beach. A little spooky!
Driving away from the shore, into what used to be ranch land and is being taken over by the 1,000 people each day moving to this state, I have seen large black wild boar – brought over from Spanish settlers in the 1500s, armadillos, alligators and snakes. Sightings of bobcats and coyotes are also becoming more prevalent in neighborhoods and photos often posted on social media.
Generally speaking I am told the alligators will ignore humans, but every few weeks another story pops up about someone or a pet being attacked. That is a bit scary and makes me say “sayonara” to any golf balls that land near those picturesque lakes on the golf course.
Bird watching is fun in Florida as it seems each day we see a new strange assortment of beaks and feathers. The best is the giant sandhill cranes who march their four foot tall bodies around our neighborhood, fly with a wing span of six feet and make the loudest, strangest bird noise you can imagine.
Ok – so those are all cute animals and fun as long as they stay out of my house – and car. We get a lot of spiders making webs on the lanai but they stay near the top of the screen so I try not to notice them too much.
Anyway, one day Pete got in my car and we drove someplace – let’s say to the grocery store. He complained that my car stank! He asked if I left an old sandwich in my Honda CRV which I adamantly denied I would do such a thing. I take my car to the beach to work with the horses and usually do pack a lunch, so after he went into the house I double checked the car and was pleased to know that there was no leftover food in my car.
The next day, we took my car which is kept in the driveway out to lunch. He noticed the smell right away and this time I did too. We drove with the windows open and after lunch, I decided to get out the bleach and clean the inside of my car.
I had a few towels in the back seat and an umbrella so I removed everything and with my rubber gloves on started to scrub down the vinyl seats. After I cleansed the back seat, I moved onto the front seat. In an attempt to empty everything before I scrub, I opened the center console between the two front seats. A large Ziploc bag filled with Pete’s sunflower seeds sat innocently enough in the opening so I lifted out the bag, only to realize that due to a hole in the bag, several had fallen inside the storage compartment. I started to sweep up all the seeds as well as the charger and sunglasses stuffed into that console space.
As I reached my hand into the back I touched something soft and pulled it toward the opening where the sunflower seed bag had been. After a split second of incomprehension, I felt a shock as I ascertained the pliable, rounded object was in fact, a 6 inch dead rat!
I ran into the house and called for my husband. I had touched a dead rat. Luckily I had gloves on but – YUCK!!
Blaming his sunflower seeds, the mystery of the smelly car had now been solved. Pete heroically took over the clean up job. After cleaning out the car and disposing of said rat, the car was detailed and the smell gone.
But not the memory.
It was hard for me to think about driving that car again.
Pete researched what happened and apparently this car has a history of being invaded by rats who live in palm trees. They like to make nests in cars and also eat wires which can make for very expensive repairs. He found evidence of how they entered the engine and even some proof “they” had been in the filter area – assuming there could be more than one rat.
Some helpful hints to share with you on keeping rats out of cars are:
- Do not keep sunflower seeds in your car (all food really)
- Spray peppermint spray in the car engine
- Leave your hood up at night
- Place rat traps at the top and base of front tires
- Use an electronic deterrent device or ultrasonic sounds
- Keep lights on the outside of car – by front tires
- Rats don’t like some smells: Pine sol, used cat litter, Irish spring soap, red pepper etc.
- Drive your car often
A pack of rats is called a mischief and we will have no more of that in this house!
Just to be sure, I traded in my CRV. Good time to trade in used cars. I’m happily driving my new car these days and loving that new car smell. Just another one of those times I made lemonade out of lemons.
What would you do if you found a dead rat in your car?