Monday, July 18, 2016

Rodents and Your Car: A Recipe For Disaster

Today I'm welcoming a very special guest to my blog. Tamara Narayan is a fellow blogger with a book of heart-stopping short stories out. Today she's here to tell us a little about rodents.

Rodents and Your Car: A Recipe For Disaster
by Tamara Narayan

After coming home from Christmas vacation one year, the heater in our Toyota Camry sounded strange—like it was stuffed with paper. And it stank. Inside the hood, we found birdseed. Oh-no. Some little critter had set up house in our car over winter break. 


Source: Bryant Olsen; cactus mouse up to no good

Why do mice, rats, chipmunks, and squirrels love our cars? First, the car provides shelter from the cold, the rain or snow, and from predators. Second, it's full of nesting material like air filters, carpeting, and seats. 




And that’s not all. Rodent teeth grow continuously. They must gnaw things to keep those choppers in check. Cars are full of rodent gum chewy wiring, tubing, and plastic.

And finally, there’s food. The trail mix of smashed Cheerios, Goldfish crackers, and Craisins your kids dropped on the floor and under their car seats makes primo snacks, and those McDonald’s fries desiccating under the driver’s seat? Yummy. But that’s just the appetizer menu, baby.

"Going green” is supposed to be a good thing, right? Humans are way too dependent on petroleum-based products, and that certainly goes for cars. But the replacements auto manufacturers have come up with sound like a smorgasbord to these toothsome car invaders.

Since the 1990’s, soy products like milk, nutrition bars, and tofu have become familiar to the public, but did you know that soy is also used in cars for making wiring harness covers, wire insulation, seat cushion foam, and carpeting?

Here is an advertisement featuring the tasty sustainable 2013 Ford Fusion.


Source: Inhabitat: The Interior of Ford’s All-New 2013 Fusion is Made of Recycled Bottles and Cotton

To expand the amount of green material in cars, Toyota is developing an “Eco Plastic” made from sugar cane or corn. Sounds delicious. Toyota is also working on a green alternative for rubber hosing made of Twizzlers plant-derived bio-materials. (Source)

The potential problem with edible wires and hosing goes beyond spending hundreds to thousands of dollars on repairs. Imagine the wires to an airbag being damaged so it can’t deploy in a crash. Or chewed-up brake lines leaving someone speeding down a highway with no way to stop.

This is where normal people think “lawsuit” and writers think, “Cool! I could totally use this in a story!”

And that’s what I did for Monitor, one of four tales in Heart Stopper and Other Stories.




Blurb:

Peppermint, mice, and a cold-as- winter voice 
A mother must make a desperate choice. 
Heeding her instincts to save the child 
What’s lost instead, the pain won’t be mild.

Monitor: Perched on a mountain with a view to die for, Laura and Paul Alderson have it all: new home, new baby, and new challenges. It’s the American dream, but when the baby monitor whispers urgent warnings to Laura about the garage and the safety of her infant son, her new life takes a nightmarish turn. 

Want to know if you're driving an especially tasty car? Check out this excellent article from Synlube.com: Incredible Edible Car.


Bio:

Tamara Narayan modeled her career trajectory after the title of the Monty Python film, And Now For Something Completely Different. She began with one the best minimum wage jobs a person could hope for: doling out overpriced popcorn to moviegoers. The perks included unlimited popcorn, sodas, and movies all for free.

After getting a B.S. in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she decided working with animals would be a hoot, especially in the birdhouse of the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, SC. There she hand raised half a dozen African penguins, had her car keys munched by a scarlet macaw, and was vomited upon by a black vulture.

Next came a return to school, this time the University of South Carolina, where she graduated in 2001 with a Ph.D. in Mathematics. After spending three years as an assistant professor, one at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, GA and the other two at the Rochester Institute of Technology in upstate NY, she turned in her dry erase markers for diapers.

Shorty after baby number two turned one, Tamara decided to write. Besides the Heart Stopper collection, she has another called Ursa Major and Other Stories. The IWSG anthology, Parallels, Felix Was Here contains her story Scrying the Plane. Her blog can be found at www.tamaranarayan.com.

Links:

I'm guest posting on different blogs throughout the month of August to celebrate the release of my new series. Let me know if you want to help out!


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28 comments:

  1. Wow, that's a lot of munchies for the little guys. Have to check my manufacturer and see what they put in their cars.

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  2. Omg stop lol. I can't deal with rats!! We have moles. Who knew moles look like rats.
    PS rats, mice, Mickey Mouse all the same...

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  3. "... but did you know that soy is also used in cars for making wiring harness covers, wire insulation, seat cushion foam, and carpeting?" No, I didn't know all this. A new thing I've learned today.

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  4. Just a thing I need to read since I know a critter is living in our garage (and hopefully not for long). It better stay away from my Xterra!! :)

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  5. hadn't thought about "green" and "tasty". Guess I'll stick with the old fashioned gas guzzler after all. Creatures can get into the tiniest spots. Ugh! Good post

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  6. Yikes. The Ford Fusion is off my buy list. I'll have to do some research before I buy my next car.

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  7. Eeeeekkkkk! Did you take the photo? Actually, the big ears on the little fella are kind of cute--in your car, not mine. ;-) Great story. I'm glad to find another short story writer. Short stories are my favorite. I can always find time for a quick read. I'm looking forward to reading your book.

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  8. I discovered a kitten inside the hood of my mother's car years ago. Unfortunately, starting the engine is what killed it. I had no idea! :(

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  9. My Chevy Volt is on the list! Good to know. I'll have to keep an eye out for signs of mice in the garage.

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  10. I never thought about rodents and cars and how that connects to biofuels or new materials. Wow, unintended consequences.

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  11. We have a lovel mousiest who lives in our grill all winter.

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  12. Writers have the best imaginations, especially about worse case scenarios. :)

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  13. Oh my. What a surprise this would be.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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  14. I did not know this. That's scary. Rats have been plentiful this year where I live. Lots of rain brought flowers and my son's garden and the rats are everywhere. They give me the shudders.

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  15. Thanks for having me as a guest today. I'd be more than happy to return the favor!

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  16. I had a friend who discovered kittens in her engine--scared her to death and thankfully she hadn't driven anywhere! It's a nice and warm spot for them to hang out in the colder months apparently.

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  17. Just the thought of a rodent in my car anyway makes my skin crawl. They can create serious trouble.

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  18. Wow! That is fascinating stuff. But now I'll be worried during the winter when I turn on my car that I might be pulverizing a mouse in the motor. I'm one of those people that puts out humane traps and participates in rodent relocation programs. I know...I'm sad.

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    1. I did the same thing with mice in my basement. I would walk them several blocks away and release them in a wooded area. I'm sure they ran right back to my house.

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  19. We're well versed in dealing with those little munchers around here. In fact, it looks as if the whole town is having car trouble because we leave our hoods up with drop lights shining at night to dissuade any would-be visiting chewers ;-)
    What a clever way to lead right into your blurb, Tamara! Heart Stopper and other stories sounds like an interesting read and I love the idea of a collection.

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  20. So if you get stranded and are hungry, you can just nom on your car!

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  21. I once wrote a post about a family of mice that lived in the trunk of a car I purchased from someone who'd kept the car in a field.

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  22. This is interesting and one I never thought about. I have spiderwebs, but thank goodness none of the other things. Yikes! Great post. Hugs...RO www.intheknowwithro.blogspot.com

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  23. Yuck. I hate rodents in anything. Not only are they destructive, they carry horrible diseases. Yuck, yuck, yuck

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  24. Loved the humor in this post!

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  25. I heard critters like to chew on cars left in long term airport parking. Imagine coming back from a long trip to that.

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  26. I had to stop for a bit because I felt both faint-ish and slightly sick. I actually have an issue with driving. At a young age every time I imagined driving the car would explode. So I'm not a driver and thanks to this article now my mind is showing me car engines full of rats. Now I know it's likely some kind of anxiety and much as I love blog posts this was probably one I should have skipped. Congrats on your book Tamara and now to scrub my brain with imagination overload.

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