“Oh, by the way, you have mice.” Oh NO! We were renting space on a piece of property on the outskirts of Marthasville, MO, about an hour from St Louis. This was something I had been afraid of, but had been optimistic wouldn’t happen because we had cats. I was wrong.
I have an extreme phobia of rodents. The last thing my stepdaughter said before returning home after her summer visit with us, “Oh, by the way, you have mice,” began what was a month long crusade. Four documented mice later, and we were finally rodent free. Our lesson included these 11 hacks, which I hope will ensure we never have to deal with this again.
1. Close Your Doors
It may seem obvious, but it was only after our infestation that I realized how often our doors were left open and unmonitored. For example, when my step-kids were staying with us, apparently they were used to having a screen door that would spring closed after they passed through, making closing the door themselves unnecessary. Ours doesn’t do that. It has to be manually and deliberately closed, otherwise, unless there is a strong wind, it remains open.
Also, when we stocked up on groceries, one of us would bring the bags to the door and hand them off to the other one who would carry them back to the kitchen area. During this time, we usually left the door open to save a step. Although this made the chore slightly easier and quicker, it also meant that the doorway was wide open for several minutes. Making sure that we close the door promptly reduced the risk or rodents.
Another thing we should have checked was the door itself. It’s important to make sure it sits well in the doorway without any gaps. It should also be able to latch and lock securely to ensure that pests are unable to enter through this method. A weak, ineffective latch allows persistent rodents to wriggle their way into your motorhome.
2. Keep Your Slides Tight
If the body of your RV or camper has slide-outs, inspect them and ensure they fit properly. Make sure both the rubber grip seals and trim seals are intact. Keep your slides either fully extended or fully retracted. Those are the only times they are sealed; any other options leave large gaps that pests can enter.
3. Check Your Wet Bay
Through the wet bay is one of the easiest routes for rodents to take into your RV or travel trailer. It provides direct access from the outside to the inside. During the period of time that it takes to empty the gray and black water tanks, the wet bay is wide open. Plus, with all of the hoses and water lines, there are usually many spaces that are less than tightly secured.
For example, if a mouse climbed up the hose, which opens underneath the rig below the bay, it could easily make it into the interior. In fact, mice can enter structures through sewer lines and even bathtub or sink drains, as well as entry holes around the plumbing.
There are a couple of things that you can do to secure the wet bay. First, you can closely monitor the opening while draining your tanks. Second, inspect the area after accessing it to check for stowaways before closing the door and concealing their existence. Third, purchase a rubber hose plug or cap to cover the ends, thereby eliminating them as entrance points for unwanted “guests”.
4. Check for Gaps
Due to their unusual body shape, mice are capable of fitting through cracks and holes much smaller than most people are aware of. Common entry points include cracks and holes in the floor and walls, spaces around gas lines, and gaps in the ceiling and windows. This is why it’s important to make the body of your rig as tight as possible.
Inspect the windows and where the walls meet the floor for cracks or gaps. Crawl underneath the camper and check it to ensure there aren’t any easy points of access for rodents and other pests. Then repair windows that leak or don’t properly close. Use silicone or an aerosol expanding foam to seal spaces around windows, under the RV, or in the underneath storage bay. This has the added benefit of eliminating leaks and insulating the spaces; reducing how much energy (and money) you need to use to control the interior temperature of your camper.
5. Plug Holes
Look at your water and sewer lines. Just as the water lines in the wet bay are unsecured, so are the locations where they enter the interior. For example, one of the entrance points we discovered in our Tourmaster was around the water supply hose immediately behind the toilet in the front bathroom. Not only was there about a 1-inch gap around the hose — which obviously was an entrance point — but one morning, we found a trail of toilet paper running from the roll on the wall to the gap and down the hole. Creepy!
That was one of the two discoveries that caused us to intensify our efforts. (The other is in Hack #8.) We checked around the water supply hoses to all of the sinks and toilets. There was another hole between the cabinets where the microwave cord came through. It was evident that they had been squeezing through it and leaving droppings on our plates. Did I mention that I hate mice?
We read that they really dislike the smell of Bounce dryer sheets, so we stuffed those tightly in each hole we found. This closed them off and deterred the critters from roaming through the cabinets, leaving their mess everywhere. We vacuumed out the cabinets and sanitized everything.
6. Create Barriers
We have found that we discover more about our Tourmaster when we have a problem than we ever do when things are going well. It was quickly obvious that the rodents had unrestricted access to all of the pullout drawers in the kitchen cabinets. These drawers house our silverware, serving and cooking ware, dishtowels, and rolls of aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and sandwich bags. There were droppings in all four drawers … lots.
So, we removed all of them and cleaned them out thoroughly. Then, we installed a custom-fitting piece of plywood behind the drawer glides to completely block that area off from the back. Lastly, we installed a second one behind the sliding shelf under the kitchen sink where we store cleaning supplies. This seemed to resolve that problem.
7. Remove the Food Source
Theoretically, mice eat things like grain and nuts. So make sure to properly store any chips, dried fruit, nuts, uncooked pasta, and dry rice by keeping them in glass or metal containers. Unfortunately, in reality mice will eat just about anything.
I grew up in an old farmhouse. I know to keep food stored in such a way that pests can’t get into them (at least not easily). In an effort to conserve, I had a stockpile of condiment packets that included ketchup, mustard, and honey. I kept this in a sandwich bag in the drawer with the silverware. They had chewed through the bag and all of the packets, leaving quite a sticky mess. This is one of the things that made our RV so appealing that they decided to take up residence.
Possibly the most disturbing discovery, however, occurred when I woke up one morning to find my purse — located on the floor by my side of the bed — had suffered the ravages of a frantic rodent. The entire corner had been gnawed through in the night. When I cleaned it out, I found a couple of restaurant mints that I had tossed in and forgotten about. I’ll never do that again.
8. Remove any Nests
As you inspect your home, make sure to remove any nests. These can be made from just about anything, but often consist of shredded paper, wood shavings, insulation, or tissue. Plus, they can exist nearly anywhere, but are usually found in places where you are least likely to go.
In our case, they were made of a combination of paper towels and toilet paper. Some of which came from the rolls we were actively using and some from our surplus stored underneath. We found a nest in the cabinet under the dining table where we store the table leaf (which we rarely use). We found two in the underneath storage areas.
The most disconcerting, however, was the one we found under the stovetop. The stove cover comes in two sections. The first covers the front burner, which is the one we use the most, and the other covers the back two burners. When we use the front burner, we often leave the cover on the back to use as cabinet space while cooking.
For the meal I was preparing, I was going to use two of the burners. As I got ready to light the first one, I noticed what appeared to be paper peeking out of the hole around the back, left burner. The mice had built a nest right next to it, under the stovetop. If I had lit the burner, it would have caused a fire. Did I mention that I hate mice?
9. Distribute Botanical Rodent Repellent
It is definitely better to avoid an infestation than to have to eliminate one. Fortunately, there are several things that can help you do this. Unfortunately, they aren’t all equally effective.
For example, some people suggest using electronic ultrasonic repellents to create a sound that humans can’t hear, but mice find as an irritating deterrent. In theory, the sound is supposed to frighten rodents away from settling in those areas. These aren’t terribly effective. First, the range of the sound is limited by the presence of walls and furniture. Second, there is very little information that supports the concept that these repel rodents. Third, I personally know several people who have tried them without success. That doesn’t mean that they absolutely won’t work, just that in my opinion, there are better options.
We bought a box of “Fresh Cab Botanical Rodent Repellent” from a farm supply store. The smell is supposed to clue mice in that there are dangerous predators about, thereby scaring them away. After removing the nests from the underneath storage, we placed a pouch in each hatch. It is my belief that these got rid of many of the “undocumented” or unobserved mice that I suspect had been living with us. If you use this method, make sure to replace them, as needed. Otherwise, they lose potency and critters may decide to “take a chance.”
10. Use Traps Rather Than Poison
To ensure you get rid of every pest, use traps instead of poison. With a trap, you will catch and contain the rodent where you can find it in the morning. With poison, you will have the smell of a rotting mouse to lead you to where it crawled off to die. Hopefully, it is an area that you can easily get to rather than within the walls.
Also, if you have cats like we do, you are putting them at risk. Poisoned mice make easy targets and when a cat eats one, they ingest the poison themselves. It is a horrible way to lose a furry member of your family.
11. Employ the Cats
At the time, we only had two cats, Figaro and Chester. Since this occurred during the summer, they were outside much of the time. We immediately started bringing them in more frequently. We also let them explore in the underneath storage areas—which we usually tried to keep them out of—to scare away anything that might have been in there.
We never saw any signs that they had killed mice, but their very presence in the hatches made the space less inviting to rodents.
Mice reproduce extremely quickly. When one enters a structure, such as your RV, and decides that it’s safe and warm with a ready source of food, it is unlikely that it’ll venture outside again. To prevent pests from entering your motorhome, make sure that all cracks, gaps, and holes are filled or sealed with steel wool, expanding foam, or another material that rodents won’t steal for their own use. Doors, windows, and slide-outs should close properly. Eliminate the food supply by storing anything that you think they might eat in a lidded container made of glass or metal and get rid of food scraps, as quickly as possible.
If you found these 11 hacks helpful, please share on a social media site like Facebook. No one should have to go through a rodent infestation alone. Did I mention that I hate mice?