My car has been running badly. It didn’t have any giddyup and the milage was very bad. I contemplated this until I remembered the story to me by a guy about how mice stuffed his wife’s car’s air cleaner full of dog food.

The other day I found a mouse near the birdseed in the garage.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Shin says:

    Same thing happened here. The perils of country life. .

  2. Sacristy_rat says:

    Always remember this:

    Combustion (a running engine)= Fuel + Air(intake/exhaust) + Timing

  3. TJB says:

    I’ve had the problem of mice eating right through the plastic to get to the washer fluid. I don’t know if the stuff gets them drunk or what but they seem to love it, and I end up with now fluid.

  4. Jimmy Brunet says:

    Rodent is from the Latin word rodere – meaning ‘gnaw need’

    Mice and rats teeth can grow up to 5 inches long and can interfere with eating if too long. They constantly chew to keep the length down. Also, plastic is one molecule off from margarine. I don’t know if anyone finds this interesting, but I seriously question my use of margarine now.

  5. PaulJason says:

    No surprise.

    I live in what would be considered in town and I had a mouse living in my engine compartment for about a year. I would turn on my air and bird seed would fly out of the vents and hit me in face. Then it stopped,I opened the hood and found a mouse mummy sitting on top of the manifold. I kind of miss the little bugger.

  6. Prof. Basto says:

    Fr. Z, where are you. We need your insight. All hell is breaking loose. The Bishops of Austria, we read in other blogs, are in open rebellion against Peter. They signed a Pastoral Letter. Also, Fr. Wagner has asked for his appointment to the Episcopate to be withdrawn. We need your comments and your scoop on whether the Pope has indeed accepted Fr. Wagner’s request.

  7. Prof. Basto says:

    Ok, the first full stop should have been a question mark.

    Also, it is important to clarify that the Austrain Bishops’ Pastoral Letter deals with the recent “crisis”, which, in their minds, also includes the uproar over Fr. Wagner, who had been appointed auxiliary Bishop of Linz.

  8. Ohio Annie says:

    “plastic is one molecule off from margarine.” that makes no sense. the composition of plastic has nothing to do with margarine. plastic is a polymer of varying composition. margarine is a mixture of fatty acids, similar in composition to butter only lacking some of the flavor components.

    Fr. Z: i had a mouse nest in my air cleaner last year. the car had been sitting for a few weeks outdoors in the summer. and once i found a dead squirrel wedged by the air conditioning accumulator. eeeuw…

  9. craig says:

    Get a cat — problem solved.

  10. Sally McGuire says:

    The best varmint story I heard was told by my neighbor, who smelled apple pie on the drive to town and back. When they returned home and opened the hood, they discovered several apples (stored in the garage), had been stashed in the engine compartment, along with other food particles gleaned from the rubbish bin, had cooked on the manifold…

  11. RBrown says:

    Fr. Z, where are you. We need your insight. All hell is breaking loose. The Bishops of Austria, we read in other blogs, are in open rebellion against Peter. They signed a Pastoral Letter. Also, Fr. Wagner has asked for his appointment to the Episcopate to be withdrawn. We need your comments and your scoop on whether the Pope has indeed accepted Fr. Wagner’s request.
    Comment by Prof. Basto

    Actually, it broke loose 40 years ago, but the official line of the Church has been we should pretend that everything is fine.

  12. Irish says:

    Father–Time to adopt a Pangur Ban?

    I and Pangur Ban my cat,
    ‘Tis a like task we are at:
    Hunting mice is his delight,
    Hunting words I sit all night.

    Better far than praise of men
    ‘Tis to sit with book and pen;
    Pangur bears me no ill-will,
    He too plies his simple skill.

    ‘Tis a merry task to see
    At our tasks how glad are we,
    When at home we sit and find
    Entertainment to our mind.

    Oftentimes a mouse will stray
    In the hero Pangur’s way;
    Oftentimes my keen thought set
    Takes a meaning in its net.

    ‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye
    Full and fierce and sharp and sly;
    ‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I
    All my little wisdom try.

    When a mouse darts from its den,
    O how glad is Pangur then!
    O what gladness do I prove
    When I solve the doubts I love!

    So in peace our task we ply,
    Pangur Ban, my cat, and I;
    In our arts we find our bliss,
    I have mine and he has his.

    Practice every day has made
    Pangur perfect in his trade;
    I get wisdom day and night
    Turning darkness into light.

    — Anon., (Irish, 8th century)
    Written by a student of the monastery of Carinthia on a copy of St Paul’s Epistles.

    Just keep him away from the lovely birdies!

  13. Tomas says:

    Father, I second Prof Basto’s motion, in spades. Esp. since I thought H.E. Von Schoenborn was one of the good guys…Why was the appointment of Father Wagner such a big “crisis”?

  14. TJB says:

    “Get a cat—problem solved” – Craig

    No, thats just substituting one problem for another. I\’d take the mice/car troubles any day over a cat.

  15. Corleone says:

    TJB – actually, traditionally cats are the favoured pets of monasteries for a lot of reasons; they kill mice, they are quiet, they aren’t as randy as dogs and they can “take you or leave you”, so you don’t have to tend to them as much.

  16. I thought your million-dollar Veyron would have better provisions for air intake so as not to allow those pesky rodents in !

  17. Corleone,

    That sounds like the voice of someone who has never had a mouse problem.

  18. my bad, that last comment was for TJB.

  19. Anne M. says:

    The best vehicle/rodent story I have heard came from a park ranger at Yellowstone National
    Park. He said a marmot climbed into the engine compartment of his wife’s car and bit through
    the anti-freeze line. Anyone for flash frozen marmot?

  20. John Enright says:

    I live in Philly, in a section which doesn’t really have rat or mice problems. I guess, you could call an exterminator.

  21. dcs says:

    We had a mouse problem a few years back and nothing took care of it so well as getting a cat. It helps that our cat is an excellent mouser; our other cat is a bit of a bumbler.

  22. LeonG says:

    Cat food is no good but perhaps, Fr Z, your car would run better if you put petrel in the tank. Then it would fly.

    My Toyota is 21 years old this year (truth) and hates cat food, too. However, it does not run anymore but prefers to stroll. It no longer uses ty(i)res but gets around on crutches.

  23. Brian in Wisconsin says:

    I had one that not only made its home in my engine, but found a way of getting into my glove compartment (where I kept chocolate … in a wrapper) and, one day while I was driving down a highway at top speed, into my car! I hate rodents with a passion, so imagine my, uhm, joy at seeing the little bugger with the beady eyes staring at me. I chased him out, but I think he simply slipped back into the engine compartment before I motored off again. I solved the problem by putting a small box of Decon on the passenger side floor and a brick of poison (laced with peanut butter) into the glove compartment. The first one was decimated, the second had a third of it eaten, and so far, no more mouse (that I can tell).

  24. Anyone hear the news?

    Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor of Britain did not want Arch. Burke to celebrate the EURL at Westminster.

    Damian Thompson has more at his blog.

  25. A Random Friar says:

    Perchance Fr. Longenecker has begun sending his mercenary (mus-cenary?) forces to do his dirty work for him? I bet this is a distraction from the invading forces attacking your sartorial treasures!

  26. elliot says:

    “Cat food is no good but perhaps, Fr Z, your car would run better if you put petrel in the tank. Then it would fly.”

    Oh, that’s really bad! :)

  27. Patrick says:


    I too have experienced the excitement of a mouse visitation in the horseless carriage. Even without providing a bounty of birdseed, the warmth of the engine block is an attraction that most rodents, and some cats, find irresistable.

    Some suggestions:

    Keep clutter in the garage to a minimum
    Secure all foodstuffs in durable packaging. Consider a steel pail with a top that can close tightly for feed storage.
    Trap the mice out. The plastic traps that can set by hand pressure (using one hand) are the best. Place them along the walls where the mice run. In a week or so, no more mice
    Get a good terrier, they are better mousers and ratters than cats.

  28. Janet says:

    Father, I second Patrick’s suggestion about using metal can with tight lid for the birdseed storage whether indoors or outdoors.
    But although a terrier is a very good mouser, dogs are pack animals which will require more time and effort on your part. Cats, especially outdoors, are quite independent and will do the job of mousing without much more than a bowl of food from you and a warm garage or barn to shelter in. Anyways, that’s my un-asked-for two cents. :-)

  29. BAK says:

    Mice love birdseed. It seems as if they can’t get enough of it. I imagine them jumping in the birdseed and having the most devilish fun any creature can. Playing in and gorging themselves on the wonders of birdseed. For them, a bucket of birdseed is the equivalent of a Roman orgy. Move the birdseed out of the garage and put out poison and squash the infestation. Fr. Z this is a BATTLE and you must do what it takes to defeat the mice. They may be cute, but they are from the devil based upon the amount mischief they play. My cruise control was destroyed last winter by nesting mice drunk on birdseed that created a den of inequity on top of my engine. Save your car from further attacks! The mice will win unless you take them on full force. The battle is on! Take no prisoners!

  30. Herman Yootik says:

    What BAK said. If they get to the wiring harness, you won’t like the results.

  31. Woody Jones says:

    A cat should do the trick on the mice and other unwanted criiters there. You may not have snakes up there in the frozen North, but down here, most farm and ranch houses have a cat as much to keep the snakes away as the rodents.

    I also second Prof. Basto’s comment: need your take on the Wagner affair; it seems very very depressing, as if, in the words, more or less, of Rorate, the liberals are gaining control over the Holy See’s actions after all. Also a question about what this means for Cardinal Re.

  32. Kristen says:

    You could name your cat Anslem! Or Scholastica! (those are, of course, the fancy cat name. the family name is something you shall have figure out on your own)

    The Naming of Cats

    The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
    It isn\’t just one of your holiday games;
    You may think at first I\’m as mad as a hatter
    When I tell you, a cat must have THREE DIFFERENT NAMES.
    First of all, there\’s the name that the family use daily,
    Such as Peter, Augustus, Alonzo or James,
    Such as Victor or Jonathan, or George or Bill Bailey –
    All of them sensible everyday names.
    There are fancier names if you think they sound sweeter,
    Some for the gentlemen, some for the dames:
    Such as Plato, Admetus, Electra, Demeter –
    But all of them sensible everyday names.
    But I tell you, a cat needs a name that\’s particular,
    A name that\’s peculiar, and more dignified,
    Else how can he keep up his tail perpendicular,
    Or spread out his whiskers, or cherish his pride?
    Of names of this kind, I can give you a quorum,
    Such as Munkustrap, Quaxo, or Coricopat,
    Such as Bombalurina, or else Jellylorum –
    Names that never belong to more than one cat.
    But above and beyond there\’s still one name left over,
    And that is the name that you never will guess;
    The name that no human research can discover –
    But THE CAT HIMSELF KNOWS, and will never confess.
    When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
    The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
    His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
    Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
    His ineffable effable
    Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

  33. Maureen says:

    Cats don’t require time, effort, and maintenance? They just look after themselves, no muss or fuss?

    * laughs darkly *

    And in your alternate universe, are the mountains also made of candy?

  34. Stephanie L says:

    Father, because I don’t know how to contact you otherwise…Bishop Mueller of Regensburg has told 3 theologians he will remove their Missio Canonica if they do not retract their statements about Pope Benedict XVI (regarding of course the SSPX affair). We need more of these kind of Bishops in Germany! Perhaps you can find out more???

  35. Robert Eckstein says:

    Re: the naming of our feline companions; a really gorgeous specimen could be named “Magnificat”.

  36. Jacque B says:

    Father Z,
    I live in N. Central Texas and squirels have eaten the wireing harness in our truck and ate through the air conditioning unit in another vehicle. Needless to say it’s a very serious problem.( and expensive)
    We have solved this by buying coyote urine (concentrated) from our local feed store. My husband drills small holes in old prescription bottles and puts a cotton ball in the bottom, then put a few drops of coyote urine on the cotton. He hangs this from a wire under the hood. It really works! The coyote and the fox are natural preditors of the rodent.
    Hope this helps.

  37. Jimmy Brunet says:

    To Ohio Annie-

    I stand corrected on the margarine/plastic thing. Thanks for the clarification! Now I’m going make my toast with margarine in peace.

  38. Ohio Annie says:

    Jimmy, Don’t be afraid about “chemicals.” Remarks such as the one you heard are usually from people with no knowledge and an axe to grind. Or who have a year of high school chemistry and just want to sound smart. The mis-use of the word “molecule” is the tip-off that it comes from a source that is unreliable. The US has the safest food supply in the world (hope it remains so under the new President) thanks to the FDA and USDA. Can you imagine how many tained peanut butter-type incidents they have in some other countries because there are no rules and no enforcement? Some traditional foods from some places still use lead salts as sweeteners.

    Jacque, the coyote urine method is great. It works much better than traps or other methods.

  39. isabella says:


    I had mice a few years ago. Also, when spring comes around, you can get a special light that will show you where the urine trails are from the mice (yuck). Try to plug the holes where they’re getting in and then chlorox the floors.

    Myself, I just let my cat take care of the mice, then threw them out in the snow to feed the ravens when she brought me the little bodies for a present. Stored all food in metal cans and chloroxed. No more mice :)


    PS If you do use chemicals, please don’t get a cat as well. If it eats a poisoned mouse, it eats the poison. Plus, you also can’t dispose of the bodies by throwing them to the ravens/jays/etc. (It’s painless; if they aren’t already dead from shock, they’ll freeze to death before they’re eaten.) At least in Alaska.

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