Don has been an avid traveler and motorhome owner for most of his life. He shares his experiences along with valuable tips for RV owners.
The Pest of the Ages: Mice
Mice are not a good thing to have around, anywhere! I'm not talking about good old Micky or his cute girlfriend, Minnie. No, I'm talking about those foul, sneaky little spreaders of pestilence: real, live mice.
The living habits of mice, in and of themselves, make them a pest that requires removal; they tend to prefer living in the dark, they nest in filth and they lie in their own waste.
And, of course, mice are infamous for being the carrier of the bubonic plague, which devastated the civilized world.
Your RV Is Your Castle
It doesn't matter if you are the occasional camper who uses a small pop-up trailer camper or if you have one of those large motorhomes with multiple slides that make it an even roomier home on wheels.
Your camper really is your castle—your home away from home! It is your defense against the elements and all that creeps in the night.
When you use your camper, you not only want everything in it to work properly, but you also want your food and other supplies to be clean and safe to eat.
Plus, you definitely do not want to have your camper, furniture, walls, and wiring damaged by these small invaders.
Mice Are Not Preferred Traveling Companions
Sometimes, no matter how hard you work to keep your camper secure and clean, mice will find their way in and set up their own version of "camping."
Camper storage facilities are usually not found sitting in major metropolitan areas; pieces of land large enough to store dozens of big RVs and other campers are just too valuable unless they are in areas more rural than urban.
And any large piece of land, especially one that is in a wilder environment, will inevitably be a home for wildlife, especially smaller wildlife such as mice.
Mice Are Always Hungry and Extremely Prolific
Mice go where the food is. They can smell real food, and even your camper electrical wiring smells good to them.
Once you get these little varmints in your camper, they will feed on whatever they can find and they will also reproduce quickly, turning themselves into a growing population of problems.
Many people are not aware of how fast mice can multiply, but mice reproduce year-round, and just six mice can multiply into sixty within less than three months.
The scary part is that once they are inside your camper, they no longer have any type of natural predator to keep their population growth down. Their growth rate is then only controlled by their food supply.
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How to Stop Mice From Entering Your RV
There are a number of things that an RV owner can do to keep mice out of their camper, especially when storing the camper.
Keep Windows and Doors Closed
Make sure that all of your w, as well as your outside storage doors, doors are firmly closed, all of their gaskets are in good shape, and that all the doors seat well when closed and locked.
Inspect the Underside of the RV
At some point, you will need to crawl under your camper and make a thorough inspection of the underside.
Look for openings that a wily and small mouse can crawl through to get into your camper. The most probable sites for gaps are around the sewage lines, water lines, and electrical lines at their entry points into the camper.
Inspect the Edges of Slides
If your RV has slides, inspect the perimeter of the slides, especially the top, and make sure that the rubber seals are in good shape and that they seat firmly between the slide and the camper body.
Inspect Roof AC Units
Those roof AC units have a relatively fragile outer plastic housing. And when you are on the road these housings can get cracked, or even seriously broken. Inspect them and make sure they are mounted properly and are in good shape.
Keep Your Camper Door Closed
So many campers will just open their main door and leave it open to let the cooler air into their camper. If you are going to do this, make sure you have a nice screen door on your entrance.
And, of course, make sure that your screen door fits the entrance perfectly. Just a 1/4-inch gap anywhere around the perimeter of the screen door is like a double-door entrance to a hotel for a mouse.
How to Get Rid of Mice Once They Are In
If you have stored packaged foods in your camper, mice will go to these first, and go through those cardboard and plastic packages quickly to get to the goodies. Then, they will eat and spread the food around the site where it was found.
And, of course, they will defecate where they eat.
Get Rid of Your Vulnerable Stored Foods
Or at least get rid of any stored foods that are not packaged in metal or glass. Here are some examples of the more vulnerable things that a mouse can get into and eat:
- Coffee creamers (liquid or powders) in plastic containers
- Uncooked pasta in cardboard boxes
- Sugar or flour in paper bags
- Dried fruits in plastic bags
- Chips in plastic bags
- Nuts or other foods in cardboard "cans"
- Breakfast or health bars in paper or plastic wrappers
Once you have your stored foods under control, you will need to get rid of the (hopefully starving) little pests, once and for all.
Some people will put out rat poison of one kind or another to kill the mice. These poisons work in several ways, but they all operate by imitating food. Once the mice eat the poison, they go back to their lair and die.
I personally do not like to use poisons of any kind, and I do not believe anyone should who is camping and have small children around, especially if they have pets.
Accidentally eating these poisons cab make a child or pet seriously ill, or even kill them under some circumstances.
But, there are the times when you have a very "smart" mouse in your RV that seem to avoid all of your other attempts to get rid of them. When this is the case, you will, at times, need to use a good poison. I have used "bait bars" a few times when all else fails.
These are solid bars containing poison and they do not spread around your camper. like many of the loose poisons do. And, once they have done their job, you can easily find the remnant and get rid of it.
Use Mouse Traps
I recommend using traps to catch and kill mice. They are cheap and efficient, and for the bleeding hearts out there, they are fast and the mouse dies instantly.
Some people will use Box Traps. These are boxes that have bait inside and the Mouse can get into the box to eat the food but they cannot get back out once inside.
Theoretically, you then take the box, with the mouse inside, and release the still-living mouse outdoors. Then you go back inside and congratulate yourself on your humane way of handling the pest, I guess!
Most people that I know just look at the box as a coffin and toss the box, mouse and all, into the nearest dumpster, and that's it.
Old-Fashioned Spring Traps
I prefer the tried-and-true old-fashioned spring traps. You open and set the spring-driven arm, then you place a piece of bait (cheese or whatever) on the lever.
Then you place the trap where you last saw the mouse, and wait. Sometime later, often at night, you will hear the trap spring, and then you simply carry the mouse with the now-broken neck outside and donate its body to Nature as food for some other hungry meat-eating animal.
How I Trap a Mouse
OK, I use the spring-loaded trap, myself, but occasionally, I will use one of the disposable box types simply for the convenience and it is a clean and sanitary of disposing of a dead mouse.
I buy several of these traps at a time because they are so cheap. I place a drop of superglue onto the lever. Then I place a piece of bait onto the superglue. This way the bait will not be stolen by a smart or super-fast mouse.
I then place the trap where needed and, Voila! Within hours, I have a dead mouse.
Then I toss the mouse, trap and all (remember traps are cheap) into the garbage, and then I repeat the process until there are no more mice for me to deal with.
A Mini Mouse-and-RV Summary
OK, I had to do it . . . Get It? . . . Mini Mouse?
Oh well, I tried.
What I have given you here is a good reference document on how to manage mice when they manage to get into your camper.
You just need to make sure your camper is not an open place where mice can easily enter and live off of your food.
To get rid of them, you need to remove their food supply.
Not so hard, right?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: The mice are in the ceiling of my trailer, how do I get into the ceiling to get them out?
Answer: The first thing you need to check is for the entry point.
The most probable entry point is your AC unit. Check the cover for cracks in the plastic, but also check that the vent areas still have a screen mounted on the inside to keep mice and insects out. It should be firmly mounted and it should cover the complete vent are.
You should also check around your manual air vents to make sure they are firmly mounted.
Getting into the ceiling of a camper trailer is a real task, but once you have the entry point sealed off the mice will have no place to go and will die without food. Hopefully, they haven't nested in your vent system.
Question: We have our camper stored at a seasonal spot in Minnesota, so it is empty all winter. We are new to this and left paper products and when we opened it found they shredded the toilet paper and paper towels, there was just one drawer with kind of a pile of poop and some random droppings along the floor. Is it likely they came in and there wasn't a proper food source so they left? Or is it likely they are hanging out in the walls or ceiling?
Answer: Well, first of all, mouse dropping are very small, only about 3/8-inch long (or less) and thin. So if you have a large pile of Poop this would indicate there being a larger animal gaining entry to your RV.
The Mice? It's not uncommon for them to tear up paper products, and getting into food items stored in cardboard boxes.
Your first thing to do is to clean up all of their mess, and then searching for the points of entry they are using and sealing these places off. Then, you can tell if there are more coming into your RV, by any new droppings or damage.
As long as wild animals can get into your RV and have a source of heat or protection from the cold winds, they will take up residence in our RV, so you must get rid of any points of entry.
Question: We have cleaned up food sources, put traps everywhere we see droppings and have yet to catch a mouse. We can hear them, so can our cats. Nothing has worked to get rid of them. Any suggestions?
Answer: I know it's tough, but if, as you say, you have eliminated food sources inside your RV, then they have set up camp inside your Rv and are getting their food from outside.
This means you have at least one entry point somewhere on your Rv where they can get in and out with ease. Make a thorough examination of your RV exterior and find how they are getting in and close that entry off. Then they will starve without their food source.
Question: We are finding mouse droppings in our outdoor kitchen on our trailer. I have tried everything to figure out how they are getting in. We set the snap traps (they work well! ) We are catching almost a mouse a day (not good). Any suggestions as to where to look for the entry point?
Answer: Honestly, Mice typically don't come into houses unless they smell food there. And Mice will not stay in a house that doesn't have food available.
So, sure you must find and block off their entry point, but you also must clean up and dispose of anything they may want to eat from your outdoor kitchen. Anything you keep out there must be kept in sealable glass or metal containers they cannot chew their way into. All food scraps must be cleaned up.
Then check out the gaskets around that drop door on your outdoor kitchen and make sure they are tight and the door is latched tightly all of the time except when it is in use.
And one more thing you need to consider is that they may be getting into your trailer and going from the inside to your outdoor kitchen.