Pesky RV Critters

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January 8, 2009

It’s that time of year again, when your RV is sitting in storage and those pesky RV critters decide to make it their winter home. Usually around this time of year I get asked a lot of questions about what can be done to control rodents from getting in your RV when it’s in storage. Now understand, I am by no means an expert on pest and rodent control but after researching the subject I can offer a few ideas that other RVers use to keep rodents out of their RVs. You can be the judge on what works and what doesn’t.

 Inspeting RV

When RVs are stored for the winter it’s not uncommon for mice and squirrels to make their winter home in the RV. These animals are notorious for chewing through vehicle wiring, plastic and rubber components, causing extensive and expensive damage to the RV.

Possibly, the most important step is to try and prevent mice and other rodents from being able to access your RV. This can be difficult because they can enter the RV through some very small areas. Start by inspecting the underside of your RV for any gaps or holes. Fill these gaps using silicone or expanding foam. A word of caution, if you never used expanding foam before you should experiment with it on something other than your RV first. When it dries it can expand a great deal more than you expect. Next, open drawers and cabinet doors inside your RV. Look in all of the corners and crevices, especially where plumbing and wiring enter the RV. If you can see any daylight mice can get in. Fill these areas with silicone, foam or steel wool.

Remove all food from the RV when it’s being stored and thoroughly clean the RV to remove any remnants of food that might attract mice and other rodents. If at all possible try to park or store your RV on a solid surface like pavement or concrete. Try to avoid grass, fields or wooded areas. If it’s a motorized RV start it every week to run any squirrels or mice off that may be making the engine compartment into a home for the winter. This is where a lot of expensive chewing damage occurs.

If you don’t mind the smell of mothballs scatter them throughout areas of the RV. I have been told that mothballs will work for a while but eventually rodents get used to the smell and it will no longer deter them. Other people say the alternative to mothballs is dryer sheets, like Bounce. I have talked to people who swear they work and the smell is much more pleasant. The problem with dryer sheets is once they dry out they’re not really effective. If you are close to where your RV is being stored you may want to use conventional mouse traps and check for mice every few days. The only problem with traps is that the bait in the trap can actually attract mice. I don’t recommend any type of poison. It can take several days for the poison to work and the mice will usually die somewhere that you can’t find them. If this happens it can take a long time to get rid of the smell. If you do use poison make sure pets can’t get to the areas where you put it.

I have talked to some RVers who suggest you spray some type of insect spray (that contains mint oils) around the tires to discourage mice. The only problem I see with this is you would need to do it every few days if the RV is stored outside. There are numerous ultrasonic pest controllers on the market. Some even offer money back guarantees. Again, I have talked to some people who swear by them and others who insist they don’t work. I have never tried this method. If all else fails I ran across a product called Fresh Cab that claims to put off a sweet woodsy-alpine scent that will keep mice away for up to three months. I have not personally tried this product. More information about this product.

After a fair amount of research on this topic I have come to the conclusion that the only way to really keep rodents away is to get rid of the rodent’s altogether. Continue to set traps for mice until they are gone and in the case of squirrels it may be necessary to trap and relocate them, if there is no other method available to get rid of them.

Happy Camping

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  1. Dennis

    Try the desiccant packs that come in electronics and leather clothing, no smell, no critters. Place under or in drawers, low cupboards, beneath the bed.

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  3. Constance

    Mothballs in onion bags wired to various places on the bottom of the RV seem to help. I also keep camp fire ash in a 3 lb coffee can and spread it around my tires when camping. Seems to deter insects and small critters from moving up the tires into the Roadtrek.

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  5. travelgirl

    Taking an ONION BAG, those net bags, putting mothballs inside it and tying off the end, and laying it UNDER the hood on top of the engine works great for mice, etc. there. There is no smell inside the RV. In fact in the Spring, I drove the RV to have an oil change. Opening the hood, the mothball bag had not even dropped off. Surprise! I forgot to take it out before driving. This works for me. One motorhome I had, the mice had gotten in under the hood, and taken away the insulation. Nasty.

    Another thing to use INSIDE the RV, if you don’t like the expanding foam stuff, (I don’t), is use wide tape & put it in/around every pipe hole and open spot. I have not had one mouse dropping, (evidence) in my motorhome, which has to sit in my driveway.

    FIRE ANTS in the South are a real problem. I have heard putting CORN MEAL around each tire to keep them out of the RV. There is a town in TX that on a designated day in the year, the WHOLE TOWN puts corn meal on their lawns. (Unless someone was pulling my leg! ??) That way the fire ants don’t go into the neighbor’s lawn, then back into your lawn. Has anyone heard of that town?

  6. I have heard a lot about keeping rodents out, but never a word about ants.
    Being even smaller, they can get i the littlest openings. Anyone know of any ant repellants beyond insect spray which requires too frequent applications?

  7. Ralph Aiello

    After reading message on rodent control I scrolled down and there was a message that said congradulations lucky visitor you have one aprize.
    Hit okay to find what your prize is but it opens up but the screen never fineshs opening up.
    What gives?

  8. Ralph Aiello

    After reading message on rodent control I scrolled down and there was a message that said congradulations lucky visitor you have one aprize.
    Hit okay to find what your prize is but it opens up but the screen never fineshs opening up.
    What gives?

  9. David Campbell

    I keep a few traps set inside and check them every few days. Since it is stored inside a shop building I keep several poison block out around the outside in several dark corners. These do serve to discourage the critters from getting in to try the “tempting” bait in the traps. I have also tried to plug all the holes with the expanding foam. It does pay to be careful how much to spray in a hole. Last winter I had a couple of mice set up housekeeping, but his winter none so far.

  10. Kathy

    We’ve tried Airwick solid and so far it is working. We lived in our RV for 18 mos. and had a bad invasion that mothballs, traps and sticky stuff did little to help. Maybe we got rid of all those rascals, but I doubt it.

  11. PAT

    I think the expanding foam should be the minimal expanding variety. Some expand to three times. If a hole is that big on the bottom of the Rv, I think you have bigger problems than a mouse entering.

  12. jor

    Here in Tucson, we have lots of problems with pack rats. I have had to partially rewire my old pickup three times. Anyhow, I’ve tried all the methods mentioned in the article and then some (peppermint, mothballs, dryer sheets, poison and so on). Anyhow, lately I’ve been winning the battle. For the last three or four months, I’ve been doing two things every night. 1. Fluorescent light under the engine compartment; 2. ultrasonic gizmo inside the rig (and in my garage). So far, so good. I hate those little buggers!!!

  13. Pkunk

    ‘Rat-A-Way’ is another product that does work. It smells somewhat like mothballs and works by confusing their sense of direction. I’ve also noticed that a common point of entry is the vehicle heater core. There are holes that collect the fresh air for the heater/airconditioner that are usually wide open entry points. A piece of screening works year round or plug them temporarily with steel wool for winter storage.