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Brave mum Laura traps the rat that ate her car

a voracious rodent that caused over €2,000 worth of damage to a young mother's car has been caught in a rat trap.

Laura Sweetnam (30), from Macroom in Cork, caught the giant rat in the boot of her Renault car - two months after she had first noticed repeated damage to the interior furnishings and fittings.

Laura, who is a Cork-based garda, admitted she was "absolutely horrified" to spot the large rat as she was cleaning her car last Wednesday.

"All I could do was let out a shout and slam the boot shut," she said.

The young mother immediately alerted a neighbour who came to her aid.

The neighbour brought a special rat cage which was carefully baited and then placed inside the car.

Laura then locked the vehicle and left it overnight to see what would happen.

Bait

When Laura checked her car on Thursday, she was astonished to discover that the hungry rat had gone for the bait and was safely behind bars.

"It's a relief because the damage caused was unbelievable," she said.

"Last November I noticed that the seats and interior fittings were being chewed and eaten," she said.

"I put down poison and the rat or rats seemed to vanish.

"There wasn't any more damage. I hoped that the rats had either eaten the poison or just gone away," she added.

"But then I noticed this week that a juice bottle left inside the car had chew marks on it."

Laura feared the worst and decided to give the car a good clean out to see if the rodent problem had returned.

The issue of the increasing number of rodent infestations in Irish cars was highlighted by RedFM presenter Neil Prendeville, who revealed a water bottle in his new SUV had been gnawed by a rat or mouse.

But Laura, having already forked out €2,000 for repairs and replacement of items like car seats and buggies, now finds herself facing a further bill for replacement items which she fears the rat has again contaminated.

Droppings

Laura was horrified to first realise rodents had somehow managed to get into her car last November when she spotted rat droppings as she was strapping her toddler into the back seat as she went to collect her oldest son from school.

Laura, who is terrified of rats, initially thought the debris on the back seat of her 2008 saloon was nothing more than crumbs and crisps left by her children and their friends.

"I was strapping my toddler, Daniel (2), into his seat to collect my older son, Evan (8), from school when I saw the damage," she said.

"I only realised what it was when I spotted the rat droppings. They were all over the back seat and on the floor."

"I have a huge phobia of rodents and I had thought I could get the car valeted and it would sort the problem," she said.

"But I just couldn't understand how they were getting into the car."

Laura's insurance company came to inspect the damage and confirmed the total repair bill came to €2,336.

"I can't believe it to be honest. I know I live in the countryside but I'm still shocked that rats could get into a relatively new car and do so much damage."

She is now hoping to have seen the last of the voracious rodents.

But she warned anyone who suspects their car may have a rat problem to exercise extreme care when checking it.

hnews@herald.ie


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