Paul Ryan Says His Car Was Eaten By Woodchucks


Madison Dapcevich


Madison Dapcevich

Freelance Writer and Fact-Checker

Madison is a freelance science reporter and full-time fact-checker based in the wild Rocky Mountains of western Montana.

Freelance Writer and Fact-Checker

Close-up of a woodchuck (Marmota monax). Marco Adriani/Shutterstock

How much of Paul Ryan’s car could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck Paul Ryan’s car? Apparently enough to render it useless.

US House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, says his car was “eaten” over the winter by a pack of furry rodents. NPR reports that a family of woodchucks moved into Ryan’s Chevy Suburban over the winter, chomping on the wiring and making it useless.


“My car was eaten by animals,” he said at an event in Washington, D.C. “It’s just dead.”

Ryan, who isn’t allowed to drive because of his status in Congress, said the car was parked at his mother’s house in his hometown. The new tenants were discovered after the car wouldn’t start when she came back from a trip to Florida for the winter.

Paul Ryan at a Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland in 2014. Christopher Halloran

As The Verge reports, woodchucks do chuck cars, and trucks, bicycles, and anything else they can make a cozy winter nest out of. The publication spoke with Daniel Blumstein, who studies marmots (yes, woodchucks are a member of the marmot family). He says Ryan’s woodchuck tale checks out; while marmots are vegetarians and typically dine on fruits and vegetables, they do have a hankering for car parts, in particular radiator fluid.

Radiator fluid, or antifreeze, is used in the winter to prevent water in the engine from freezing when temperatures drop. Ethylene glycol, the primary ingredient in most brands, has an appealing smell and tastes sweet to some animals, according to the Humane Society. Antifreeze is also a favorite among pets, and if left untreated can result in disorientation, vomiting, kidney failure, coma, and even death.


Wild animals, particularly rodents, also hole up in vehicles during the winter months to keep warm. The engine block is the perfect escape from winter weather conditions and predators, but their presence can wreak havoc on electrical systems, air vents, carpeting and seats, and increase the risk of disease that spreads from feces and urine, according to Utah State University

How do you prevent unwanted tenants from taking up residence in your car? Keeping it parked in a garage is a good place to start. If you don’t have a garage, park it away from brush and other areas where rodents live. Keep the interior clean and ensure that there are no traces of food for furry rodents to get their hands on. Block small entrances to the engine with wire mesh to keep rodents out, and turn the car on every so often to make sure there aren’t any new residents. 

A rat's nest in the engine block of a vehicle. Kamonkanok/Shutterstock


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