If you aren't careful, your camper might get mice. Here's how to to keep mice out of your camper. Learn how they enter, how to repel and remove them. Mice like campers during the winter, these tiny rodents can wreak serious havoc on your RV if left unchecked.
If you leave your RV standing for long periods between use, you might find yourself dealing with a mice problem. Because mice like to use campers as a shelter during the winter, these tiny rodents can wreak serious havoc on your RV if left unchecked.
Mice can be kept out of an RV camper by making sure to inspect for any holes that mice can enter and sealing the RV tightly to prevent them from getting in. Camper owners should also avoid leaving food or other attractive materials inside the RV that will tempt mice to enter. Regularly using the RV can also help deter rodents.
Mice can cause a lot of serious damage to an RV if left unchecked. Read on to learn more about how mice get into your camper and how to keep them out.
3 Ways Mice Get in Your Camper
Mice can get into a camper in several different ways. It’s worth paying attention to each area separately to make sure that you don’t end up with a mice infestation in any of them.
Here are some of the ways that mice commonly get into an RV:
- Beneath the RV cover: If an RV cover is fitted loosely, mice are known to build nests beneath it. This can often lead to the mice eventually infiltrating the RV itself if they manage to get underneath the cover.
- Through holes and unsealed areas of the camper cabin: It’s important to remember that a mouse can squeeze itself through a space the diameter of a ballpoint pen. (Source: Point Pest Control) So, even if you don’t think you have any openings in your RV that are large enough for a mouse to get in through, chances are if you do have openings in your RV, you have openings in your RV that are big enough for a mouse.
- In the RV’s engine compartment: Since the camper is sometimes left sitting for months at a time, this can encourage rodents to take up residence inside the engine compartment itself, building nests there and elsewhere in the undercarriage of the RV. This can often lead to rodent gnawing problems like electrical shorts and holes chewed in hoses or reservoirs.
Because mice are so small, it is easy for them to find ways to get into a camper if there are any openings in the seals at all. Especially if the RV is left standing in storage for weeks or months at a time.
It is during these periods of inactivity that mice are tempted to move in since there is no danger of human intervention.
5 Ways to Keep Mice Out of Your RV
Mice might be naturally attracted to your camper, especially during the off-season when it’s not regularly used.
But there are several methods you can use to help you keep mice out of the camper.
Here are some of the ways you can do it:
- Soak cotton balls in peppermint oil and line the seams of the camper with them when not in use. The pungent smell of this essential oil is very repellent to mice and other small prey animals since it interferes with their ability to smell predators. Not only will peppermint oil repel mice from visiting your camper during the off-season, but it will also leave your RV smelling fresh rather than musty after lack of use.
- Remove all tempting items from the camper when not in use, such as fabrics or food. Food is a major attractant for rodents, especially during the winter, when they are short on other food supplies and are looking for a warm place to hole up for the season. To prevent mice from moving in and tearing all of the stuffing out of your cushions to make their Christmas nest, keep all food and any tempting nesting materials out of the RV when not in active use.
- Make sure to clean out your engine compartment. Keeping your engine compartment cleaned out regularly and running it occasionally so that it doesn’t fall into disuse can help prevent mice from setting up residence inside the mechanical components of your car. It’s a good idea to check these parts of the car regularly to make sure there’s no evidence of mice nests or chewed wires and hoses.
- Make sure the RV is sealed up tight. Any hole in the camper larger than the diameter of a pen should be sealed up using epoxy or some other airtight sealant so that mice and other pests such as insects can’t get into the RV when it’s in storage during the offseason.
- Make sure that the camper is thoroughly sanitized and scrubbed down with fragrant soaps before putting it into storage during the off-season. This will help eliminate any lingering food smells that might attract mice and can remove any food crumbs or other food sources that will draw mice into the camper.
As long as you take a few simple efforts to keep mice out of your RV when you’re not using it, you can usually manage to avoid a mice infestation in your RV.
Damage Mice Can Cause in Your Camper (6 Things)
Mice may not seem like a big deal, but they can cause serious damage to your RV camper.
Here are some types of damage that mice can cause in your RV:
- Electrical shorts: Mice love to chew through wiring, and not only can this lead to serious problems with the electronics in your RV, but it can also lead to mice becoming electrocuted on the wiring in the walls of the RV and dying in there, causing the RV to smell. Electrical shorts can range from minor inconveniences like intermittent lights to serious engine problems.
- Chewed seating and paneling: One of the worst things about mice is their natural inclination to chew on and in everything around them, and they will often go after seat cushions and other parts of the RV that contain fabric or stuffing to use this material to line their nests. Not only can these seats be difficult to fix, but they can also be even more difficult and expensive to replace if they get badly damaged by mice.
- Urine and feces: One of the most disgusting things about mice in your camper is that they leave their droppings and their urine all over the place. Not only can mice droppings and urine cause deadly diseases such as hantavirus, but they are also damaging to fabrics and unsanitary in eating areas. Adult mice are capable of leaving fifty to seventy-five droppings a day, and continually dribble urine as they move throughout an area to mark their territory. (Source: Victor Pest Control)
- Damaged mechanical systems: If mice take up residence in your engine compartment, this can lead to a breakdown of mechanical parts that can cause your RV to stop running entirely. The electrical damage done in this part of the RV can also be very costly (both in time and money) to get fixed.
- Bad smells: A mice infestation can lead an RV camper to smell like mice droppings and urine, and if a mouse dies in the wall of your RV or somewhere in the cabinetry, it can create a horrific smell that can be difficult to air out.
- Chewed papers and plastic: Mice will chew on just about anything in an RV interior, but soft materials such as plastic-covered foam materials and papers are especially vulnerable. As a result, if you leave a drawer full of maps in an camper with mice, you’re going to come back to a massive shredded mess. And the more chewing damage and holes mice are allowed to create in the RV, the harder it becomes to control their movement in and out of it.
Mice are capable of doing a lot of damage to interiors in a short amount of time if they’re left unchecked.
That’s why making sure they can’t get into the RV and putting down deterrents to keep them from trying is the best course when it comes to keeping them out of the camper.
How to Find Entry Points for Rodents
The first step in trying to keep mice out of your RV is to identify potential areas where they have the opportunity to get inside the camper cabin.
The best way to do this is to climb up underneath the RV and look for any potential entry points that mice might be able to use to get into the RV and sealing them up if you find them.
You’ll also need to check the inside of the RV carefully to make sure there are no places where mice can get in.
Mice can chew through many materials and easily make a hole where there was no hole before, but they’ll often exploit pre-existing holes in a structure that allows wires, pipes, or other conduits flow through the RV’s design.
Here are some areas of the undercarriage and interior of the RV that you should look at most closely.
These are points where you’re most likely to find openings or weak points in the RV’s undercarriage where mice can wiggle through (Source: Camper Guide):
- Wiring gaps
- Plumbing gaps
- Insides of closets
- Insides of cabinets
- Insides of drawers
Be sure to check your camper for openings at midday when the sun is brightest, as seeing from underneath the camper where sunlight is getting through can show you exactly which holes you need to seal up.
Remember how small of a hole mice can get through and be thorough when it comes to closing up the gaps.
A variety of materials can be used to seal up openings in an RV from caulk to steel wool.
When inspecting the RV, start at one end of the RV and slowly work your way to the other end. This is the easiest way to keep track of where you’ve already inspected, so you have less chance of missing a spot.
It’s also good to have the supplies to seal up an opening on hand with you when you’re inspecting so that you can plug up any holes you see as soon as you see them.
6 Ways to Repel Mice from Your RV
Other than making sure mice can’t get into your camper, you can also take several steps to discourage them from using it.
Here are a few things you can use to help repel mice from your camper:
- Peppermint oil: Peppermint and other strongly-scented essential oils are repellent to mice and other small prey animals because they cover up the animal’s sense of smell, preventing it from detecting approaching predators. This makes it a sweet-smelling solution to help encourage mice to avoid your camper. Here's a great option on Amazon.
- Mothballs: Mothballs may not smell as sweet as peppermint oil, but along with being repellent to mice, mothballs also have the added attraction of being repellent to moths and other pests, which can help keep the fabrics in your camper from becoming moth-eaten when the RV isn’t being used.
- Irish Spring soap: Grating up bars of Irish Spring soap and sprinkling the soap along the thresholds of the RV can be a strong deterrent in keeping mice from trying to get inside. Like peppermint oil, the strong smell of Irish Spring is repulsive to mice.
- Used litter: If you have a cat, taking a litterbox of used litter and placing it beneath the undercarriage of the RV can help deter mice from trying to enter it since the smell of the ammonia will alert them to the presence of a nearby predator.
- Cayenne pepper: Cayenne pepper is a natural deterrent for mice, and placing open containers of it near the doors of an RV on the interior can keep mice from wanting to come inside.
- Ultrasonic mice deterrents: There are mice deterrent devices that emit a high-pitched noise that rodents and insects find off-putting but is too high for people to hear. These devices can be placed inside the RV. You might consider this set of 4 repellers by Pest Solider on Amazon.
Even after putting down mice deterrents, it’s a good idea to put down a humane trap in the RV just in case mice make it past your defenses.
That way, if a mouse does happen to get in, they will get caught quickly before they have a chance to do any real damage.
If you do a good job making sure that mice can’t get into your RV in the first place, you won’t ever have to worry about dealing with them on the inside of the RV.
But the above items can serve as an extra line of defense to make the camper extremely unwelcoming to rodent company.
More reading: How much wind can an RV withstand?
How to Deal with a Mice Infestation in Your Camper
So, what do you do if you already have a mice infestation in your camper? Depending on how long the problem has been going on, this can be a serious issue.
If you’ve already seen signs of mice in your RV, here are some steps you can take to get rid of them:
- Figure out where the mice are getting in. Before you deal with the mice you already have in your camper, you need to make sure more mice can’t get in from the outside. So, you should thoroughly inspect the camper for any openings and seal them.
- Put out mice traps. If you’ve got a serious mice infestation, you probably want to forget about the humane traps and go with a bunch of snap traps instead. You can often catch a large number of mice quickly with snap traps. However, if you’re squeamish about killing traps, humane traps can also be used to catch and remove mice from the RV.
- Put out poison. Another option to get rid of a bad mice infestation in a camper is to lay out poison, but be aware that if you have a mouse die somewhere in your RV, it might cause a terrible smell until it has a chance to air out. And you may not ever find it, without removing walls. Not the best solution.
- Make sure to sanitize the camper once you’ve eradicated the mice. You should clean your RV from top to bottom after having a mice infestation to prevent the spread of mice-borne pathogens.
- When in doubt, call an exterminator. If you’ve tried everything and you still seem to have mice inside your RV, it might be time to turn your case over to a professional. Exterminators can often find openings and other weaknesses in structures that normal people wouldn’t think to look for, and they also have access to pest control technology and poisons that can eradicate even the worst mouse problem.
Once you get rid of your mouse problem, you must take steps to make the RV airtight and install deterrents to make sure the problem doesn’t happen again.
Keep reading: How much does it cost to install an RV hookup at home?
Keeping Mice out of Your RV
Between deterrents and traps, there are several ways to keep mice from wanting to come into your camper and ways to eliminate them if they try.
But the best way to keep mice out of your camper is to make sure that there’s no way for them to get inside.
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