PLYMOUTH, MASS. (WHDH) - A local mom says just when she thought 2020 could not get any more bizarre, it did. Rats ate her car! Yes, you heard that right. What happened? Hank Investigates.

What happened to Jackie’s car? The inside is tattered and frayed.

Jackie and her kids recently moved to Plymouth. She parks her SUV on the street outside her house and had noticed food left in the vehicle had bite marks.

“It started with just little bags of chips that the kids had left being opened. I was thinking maybe like a little chipmunk, or a mouse had gotten in there,” Jackie says.

So, Jackie set some traps and cleaned out her SUV.

“When I first moved here, people had told me that there were rats from the restaurants, but I didn’t want to even think that a rat was getting in my car,” Jackie says.

But her worst fears were confirmed. She caught not one rat but two.

“I was shocked, even though I had a feeling, I was still shocked,” Jackie says.

She set more traps. But the rats kept coming. “A girlfriend of mine came by at night, and she said, ‘I don’t know how to tell you this, but I just saw two rats running towards your car,’” Jackie says.

Soon they weren’t just eating food. The rats started devouring her seats and seat belts.

“It scared me. It grossed me out. All I could think was, ‘Oh my gosh, what if I’m driving and, you know, there’s one in here, what am I going to do if it bites my son?’” Jackie says.

The radio, speakers, and heated seats stopped working. Jackie brought her car to a mechanic who said the rats had eaten through the vehicle’s wiring system.

“I was like, ‘This is now really dangerous.’ They told me that the rats had actually dragged like a Dunkin Donuts bag up behind the airbag compartment and that it was a miracle the airbags didn’t deploy while I was driving,” Jackie says.

She called her insurance company and got more bad news: they said her car could not be repaired. It was totaled! “This is insane. This is crazy,” Jackie says.

Why did this happen?

Plymouth officials tell us rat complaints are up in the downtown area where Jackie lives. They blame construction that disturbed the rats’ nests.

But experts say with so many restaurants closed because of COVID, there’s less food in trash cans and dumpsters, so rats are having to find new sources of food.

Plus, people aren’t using their cars as much in the pandemic, giving rats more time to feast undisturbed.

“A car works out great because it’s a dry place, it’s warm, and it’s inviting to be for nesting purposes. It’s a great shelter,” Robert Lockwood from Ehrlich Pest Control says.

Jackie got a new car. And she’s hoping the new year does not bring new rats.

“It’s like a horror movie,” Jackie says.

Experts say now that winter is here, rodents will be looking for more food and shelter. If you’re not using your car, you may want to move it each day and check for signs of unwanted visitors.

CDC warning about rats:

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