How to Prevent Rodent Damage to Your Tractor & Equipment

By TBN November 10, 2018 01:23

How to Prevent Rodent Damage to Your Tractor & Equipment

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See that curious look on this little guy’s face? Well it’s all good and fun until he turns toward your tractor! When rodents get inside the engine bay of your equipment, they can turn your tractor into a meal (or maybe a storage locker for chestnuts) and make quick work of your pocketbook by causing costly damage.

The most common symptom of rodent infestation of your engine bay is wiring that has been chewed and you’re going to notice that pretty quickly the next time you go to fire up your machine. In addition to wiring, rodents will sink their teeth into hydraulic hoses, belts, seat cushions, and almost anything else they can gnaw on. But without getting into all of the ways rodents can damage your equipment, let’s just say it’s a bad thing and taking a few steps to deter them could save you a bunch in repair costs and headaches.

So, how to solve this problem? We’ve got six tips from our members who have been down this road before. Some have seen great results, while others remain in a battle with the rodents. Hopefully something in this article will help.

Close the front door!

First thing’s first. If you’re storing your tractor and equipment somewhere that is covered (be it a barn, shed, or garage), you will want to seal the spaces and holes that could allow easy entry for rodents. Once they find a way in, they will consider it a viable home and may never leave as they multiple and found food sources. First step is keeping them out.

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By TBN November 10, 2018 01:23
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50 Comments

  1. OOSIK November 13, 20:19

    Four months with all my vehicle and tractor hoods open. No mouse or rat nests, no chewing – easy, cheap solution. BTW – that tractor in the pic is mine. Hmmm – should have cut down all the dry, dead weeds before taking the pic. Ha, ha, ha

  2. MiserableOldFart November 15, 01:25

    Tried to deter mice from the shed for years, with little success. I know I had a box of poison bait in one of the cabinets, but hated to use it. Finally got fed up and went to get the box out of the cabinet – they had eaten through the back of the cabinet, and the box, ate all the baits and left nothing but an empty box, without so much as moving it a half inch to indicate they’d been there. Probably years before, too..

  3. Kurt B November 15, 02:55

    I spread old fashion moth balls on equipment stored in my out buildings, cheap and seems to work well.

  4. George November 15, 03:02

    A few years ago rats and mice chewed through all of the wires in my dashboard. I rewired it myself but it was a huge pain. I posted about it here at TBN.

    My tractor stays in an open pole barn.

    I have had luck leaving my hood open too.

    I’ve also had luck with strewing mothballs on the ground around my tractor. The problem is that they don’t last long and it is hard to find them in any quantity.

    I’ve heard that Irish Spring soap will work too but haven’t tested it.

  5. George November 15, 03:04

    Regular rat poison has not worked well on my property. They say mice can become resistant to it in 3 or 4 generations.

    In my cabin they lined their nests with the poison pellets and it did nothing to deter them.

  6. CJ November 15, 03:19

    I leave the storage building doors open and I think they don’t like that it’s not a safe closed in feeling like they want to nest. I work on the vintage machines that are in the same buildings so making noise and running those scares them away. I think there’s a stray cat around or he’s just the neighbors cat. I’ve seen a few times near the buildings.

  7. Mark November 15, 03:33

    While you can’t start and use the equipment daily this is the best way to prevent unwanted guest although I have seen birds build a nest in the exhaust pipe over a weekend. I use steel wool all around the dash area and they can’t penetrate it.

  8. Madbuck50 November 15, 04:09

    Mice, rats, and even snakes will stay away if you spread moth balls all around your equipment , under and inside storage sheds. I have a lot of rattlesnakes in my area and the moth balls seem to do the trick.

  9. Rabenfels November 15, 04:15

    Bounce dryer sheets seem to work. tied them in the engine bays of all vehicles, under seats, inside the vehicles and inside the camper.

  10. gofordman November 15, 04:54

    i use ‘fresh cab” all natural rodent repellant. get it at tractor supply co.

  11. pmsmechanic November 15, 04:57

    Forget about the tin can and the peanut butter on the five gallon trap. Just put the poison bars on the wire. It seems to attract mice from all around and doesn’t let them go into the food chain

  12. Sandy November 15, 06:32

    Please, no poison. A rat eats poison, before it dies it crawls out in the yard and lies their writhing in the dark. Up on a pole a Barn Owl decides to nail the rat, injests the rat full of fresh poison, and dies. Forget poison, please.
    Not to mention Hawks, Eagles, dogs, cats, Fox that will get poisoned by the rat as well if they get to it first.
    I’m not a full blown tree hugger, but I do work with a bird rehab and owls, especially, come in poisoned all the time.

  13. Garyinca November 15, 07:23

    The best fool proof method I have found is bounce fabric softener sheets. I use it in all my truck engine compartments ever since I spent over a $1000 on new wiring and have not seen any in 5 years since I started using them

  14. Mark November 15, 09:01

    The 5 gallon thread has been great reading and informative as well. I would put my 2 cents in on the first ‘solution’ regarding cats. DON’T let cats loose out there, they are indiscriminate killers and do more damage than good. Outside they are a pest as much as the pests they might be intended to control.

  15. Kenny G November 15, 10:57

    I used/use moth balls, bait blocks, peppermint oil, sticky boards, and other deterrents with varying success. I set traps with peanut butter bait and most of the time the mice will eat the bait and never trip the trap. No sure way to keep the mice out. I recently setup a “bucket trap” but nothing so far.

  16. viper November 15, 11:01

    Those ultrasonic high frequency gadgets work for me.

  17. mark3885 November 15, 11:32

    My brother had a problem with mice getting into the cargo hold and into the interior of his motor home . He saw in a motor home magazine that mice don’t like light . He ran a ring of rope lights around the motor home and plugged it in at night. His motor home was parked outside so only plugging it in at night worked , he said if it had been parked indoors he would leave them on 24/7. Been 3 months now and not a single mouse.

  18. Professor49 November 15, 11:32

    I have a rather large problem with pack rat damage around my small homestead. All vehicles (not just tractors) are favorite targets. I have tried all measures mentioned in the article – none of them have completely solved the problem. Live trapping has been the most successful. I run my trapline daily and it keeps expanding.

  19. Don November 15, 11:58

    Best thing I’ve used over the years is sheets of fabric softener….mice hate it

  20. Mike November 15, 12:13

    I store my Kubota with the hood up, and liberal amounts of the foofiest smelling dryer sheets laying around the engine bay, stuffed in around the cowl, etc….plus a few bags of mothballs slit open & laying on the seat, etc. Seems to work as I had some rodent issues before I started leaving the hood up & doing these other things, but not anymore.

  21. Chris In Gallupville November 15, 12:28

    I put an ultrasonic rodent repeller on the end of an extension cord and tuck it into the engine compartment. I actually started doing that b/c my truck which is parked in the same pole barn got hit (same rig for the truck). I know that the science behind them isn’t all that supportive but I see improvement in the form of fewer rodents wherever I use them including the old pig pen.

  22. Shady oak November 15, 12:31

    I use a long thing board with one end over the trip on a live trap. Bait on top of board. Seems to make the trap trip easier when the little beast heads up the board.

  23. Tired of mice November 15, 12:49

    I use an electronic pest repellant device that is mounted under the hood on the fire wall. It’s powered all the time from the battery. Also, use a solar battery tender to keep battery charged This device makes annoying noise that seems to keep critters out.

  24. Buck November 15, 13:57

    TomCat Rat and mouse bait is useless. We surrounded our tractor with it, the never ate any of it, and destroyed the tractor wiring.

  25. BRS November 15, 13:59

    I use mothballs under RV, truck and equipment. Also use Fresh Cab on interiors (and in house when needed). A couple farm cats help too. I’ve had 4 out of 5 vehicles damaged by rodents until I wised up and used the above methods and none since.

  26. Al November 15, 14:27

    I take panty hose socks, put mothballs in them and hang them in a couple spots under the hood. Refill when they are gone. That way I’m
    Sure they don’t fall out when the truck, etc is moving.

  27. Snowy Montana November 15, 15:19

    Would urge everyone to stay away from poisons. I’ve seen too many times where an unintended target was killed. Birds in particular, since poison bait is taken by rodents and hoarded, then birds get it. Maybe mice that then get eaten by a cat which then dies. Might be the neighbors pets, livestock, grandkids, who knows. If you put poison out, it will stay in the environment around your hose and buildings FOREVER. Please stay away from it.

  28. RedDirtOkie November 15, 15:38

    We have a farm in Oklahoma that we visit a couple times a year. Rats have eaten wiring in a stored pickup, and built a massive nest under the hood. We have used Tom Cat to some success, but doesn’t really control them. In the house the mice were running rampant. We killed 14 one evening with regular peanut butter traps. One particular wise mama mouse kept eating the PB and not tripping the trap. My son use a bread tie hold to hold a small bit of beef jerky on and sure enough the next morning we had that little mama! Like the idea of mothballs and dryer sheets under the hood!

  29. TimC November 15, 16:56

    I use old fashion traps in buildings.
    On tractor, motor home and motorcycles I use Fresh-cab. These repellents are pouches and can be stuffed into smaller areas. Smells ok too.

  30. Charlie November 15, 17:44

    I use cats and they work great. I used to have to fix wiring on all vehicles about once a week. Three years with cats and no rats. I’ve used traps in the past but all i did was catch rats. It didn’t stop the damage. Cats are the bomb!

  31. WAROG November 15, 19:12

    The last 2 pages were worth the read. The previous ones not so much. Those recommending cats,traps and cages,,especially”stinky”.

  32. Higgins November 15, 20:45

    I’ve used dryer sheets, moth balls and all that other stuff that doesn’t work. The ONLY thing I have found that helps is to set snap traps in my pole barn. I place them as far away from my tractor and classic cars as possible to draw the mice away from the vehicles. I check them every few days. Yes, they do eat a lot of peanut butter but I catch a few too.

  33. Jimdeere November 15, 22:19

    I keep mine in a shipping container, nothing gets in or out

  34. Charlie November 15, 23:36

    They changed the formula on rodent poison, it no longer works. We are always finding empty bait stations look around and find the poison piled up in corners behind boxes or cabinets!

  35. Ozarkman November 16, 01:01

    I use Repels All, smells bad but no mice. I also open the hood.

  36. ROUNDBABY November 16, 02:33

    I’VE TRIED ALL THINGS IN MY OUTSIDE BARNS, NOT FOR JUST THE TRACTOR, BUT THEY GET IN YOU’RE LAWNMOWERS, RIPSAWS, BOATMOTORS, AND ANY TIGHT SPACES WITH COMPARTMENTS FOR NESTING.
    I FOUND OUT POISONS IS QUICKEST MULTI-CATCH TRAPS, AND 22 RATSHOT WORK GOOD. I HAVE A CHICKEN PEN CLOSEBY AND THATS BAD TO BRING IN THESE CRITTERS. KEEP THE BLACK SNAKES AROUND TOO AS THEY HELP IF THEY DON’T EAT YOU’RE CHICKEN EGGS–LOL

  37. Wendell November 16, 13:53

    When the mice ate the bait and didn’t trip the trap, I glued some bait pellets to trip lever and got them!

  38. Buzz November 16, 15:25

    peppermint oil…with eyedropper….drop here, drop there….it works

  39. Hopcrazybob November 16, 16:00

    To those who use peanut butter or cheese baited traps, wrap the trip and bait with thread or floss to catch ‘em.

  40. Jeff November 16, 16:05

    The 5 gallon bucket of death works awesome! Use one at the hunting camp also. Its a trap that keeps on gining

  41. Patti November 16, 18:00

    My dad and friends put BOUNCE dryer sheets in their antique vehicles- under the hood, on the floor beneath the car and inside, in the trunk- everywhere- and they’ve never had a rodent problem! I don’t know if other dryer sheets work as well as BOUNCE, but I would be generous with them! In places where rodents can get into buildings or on the equipment, pack in the coarsest steel wool you can find. Apparently it cuts their mouths so they won’t chew through it. I have also heard of using Irish Spring bar soap and sprinkling cinnamon, but haven’t tried either.

  42. OLDMANWOOD November 16, 18:11

    I HAVE GOOD LUCK WITH FABRIC SOFTNER AND MOTH BALLS. ALL AVAILABLE IN DOLLAR TREE.

  43. Bob G. November 16, 19:02

    No surprise that this is a popular topic…

    ( ;>)

  44. Ginnim November 16, 23:30

    I put 5 gallon paint buckets in every room in the barn including my home basement with a hand full of corn then put a 1/2 inch hole in the middle of the tightened lid. The mice smell the corn and enter the hole to get the corn but are unable to crawl out. I check the buckets in three days. Caught a lot of mice and their numbers have greatly reduced. Can’t get back to their nests and propagate. Works great in the basement too ! I also put small buckets in our vehicle passanger footwells and it works great their too. I also remove car owners manuals and I stops them from getting obtaining confetii for nesting in small heat ducks on the dash. I also riveted aluminum screen material over the air filter intakes. This stops them from building nests in the air filter compartment and chewing up the air filter. Lastly, I open the hoods of the vehicles not being used in the cold winter months ( all my equip is under a open hard roof pavillion with all the fuel run out) and remove the batteries to a heated shed. Mice will eat wiring because the electrical harmonics generated if the battery is hooked up. They are bothered by the harmonics and figured out that if chew the wires they can stop or reduce it so the can nest. This all works for me. This staging has been quit successful. Hope this is helpfull.

  45. Dave November 17, 04:33

    Kept mice and other vermin out of my covered motorcycle by putting a couple of mothballs on the floorboards. It took less than a minute to clear the smell after removing the cover. It also work at keeping the semi-feral cats from clawing up my nice leather seats in Ankara, Turkey.

  46. HateDemMeecesToPieces! November 17, 05:03

    Spray PB Blaster around the tires or any part touching the ground, or close. Works like a champ.

  47. Stuck motor February 12, 05:08

    In the 80’s my mother had a plug in pest repeller. I don’t know how well it worked on other pests but, it annoyed my son.

  48. Soapy April 21, 12:17

    Mix up chili powder and water and make a paste. Smear it in your wiring harness and wires. Rodents hate it. I think their is now a spray that you can buy at some automotive stores. Wire insulation is made from a soybean extract.

  49. Kevin May 26, 00:14

    I’ve heard that fast setting DuraBond 20 in powder form mixed with oatmeal dry, works pretty good and kinda of fast. 20-30 minutes. Or any kind of dry food like crushed nuts
    The powder mixes with their saliva, then sets up inside side them like tiny concrete balls.

  50. Maroon1941 November 1, 01:51

    Ok , kevin has the right idea here . A couple of years ago we had a major rat problem in our chicken coop . I mixed powder sugar,( rodents love sugar) plain cheap oatmeal and plaster in a covered container ( so chickens had no access and the mixture would stay dry) this method works excellent! Make sure you keep the container full. Also substituted the plaster for cheap baking soda ( the thought here was a fact that rodents can’t pass gas , so the gas produced can’t escape and kills them) I also tried cheap Alka-Seltzer Ground into a powder. Make sure you always include the powdered sugar. This really works excellent, and no poison is involved. You will sometimes find white rodent feces , which is an indication that these mixtures are working. Also as mentioned ,on a mouse trap tie several knots of string where you place the peanut butter . A mouse can clean the peanut butter off a trap real fast without setting it off . A greedy mouse will want to chew the peanut butter covered string and that’s where he loses.

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