Some Brooklyn Heights motorists are discovering a creepy, costly surprise under the hood of their cars this winter: an infestation of rats.
Edward Perl, a resident of the neighborhood, said he parked his Lexus on Montague Street near Hicks Street several weeks ago and found that he couldn’t restart it.
A mechanic discovered that the car’s electrical wiring had been chewed through, and the foam lining around the engine cover had been shred to make a telltale nest.
“You turn off the motor, the motor’s warm, and it’s a nice comfy place to stay,” said Perl, who paid $750 to rewire and repair his car.
Thank Hurricane Sandy, which forced swarms of New York’s most resourceful four-legged residents out of basements and into the streets.
The service manager at Bay Ridge Lexus, where Perl took his car for repair, said that he has seen five cases of rat-infested cars so far this winter.
“You could say that our calls pretty much doubled,” said Jason Anderson, a service manager at Brooklyn Heights Exterminator, who said that his business now gets about 30 calls a day for rat infestations, mostly from neighborhoods like Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens.
People who see rats on public property can call 311 to prompt the city to put traps out, said Judy Stanton, the executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association.
But the problem could very well come from infestations that begin on private property — and since the mayor’s last few budgets reduced the number of pest-control inspectors in the city, these sorts of complaints may be getting addressed less frequently, she said.
“When the infestation is under the city streets,” Stanton said, “We don’t know where they’re coming from.”
Reach reporter Jaime Lutz at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow her on Twitter @jaime_lutz.