If you love RVing as much as we do, chances are you want to share it with just about everybody around you.
… Well, maybe not everybody. As lovable as our four-footed, whiskered friends can be, unwanted mice and rats can be hard-to-beat pests in the world of RV camping. Since your RV, unlike your car, has an onboard kitchen and is at least sometimes stashed with a food supply, these houses on wheels can be a really attractive place for mice to camp out. That’s especially true if you leave your camper filled with food to be ready for the next trip, even while it’s in storage.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to get ahead of these creepy-crawly critters… and also ways to take care of the problem after the fact if you find yourself already inundated with mice or rats.
In this post, we’re going to dive into all the steps you need to take to keep mice out of your RV — or evict them if they already decided to move in unbidden.
How to Keep Mice Out of an RV
The most ideal scenario is to keep mice from ever getting into your motorhome or travel trailer in the first place. So: what steps should you take to keep your rig a mouse-free zone?
Probably the most important step to take to keep mice out of your motorhome is to make your motorhome less hospitable to mousekind. And that means ensuring your rig is clean and food-free, especially during long bouts of storage between trips.
Although you probably keep food in your house all of the time, when it comes to an RV, keeping it a mouse-free zone can be a little bit more finicky. After all, you probably don’t leave your house untouched for weeks at a time, just collecting dust, and the critters might have more routes to access your RV by. (Just think about all those doors, windows and seams!)
We recommend taking all the food out of your RV in between trips, with the possible exception of canned goods and other well-sealed nonperishables. But even things with long shelf lives that live in easily-nibbled bags and boxes — like crackers or candy — are fair game for mice and rats, and should thus be removed when you’re getting the rig ready for storage.
Along with removing the major sources of food, it’s also a good idea to do a thorough cleaning after each trip, too. Those tiny crumbs and scraps of food that fall under your stove burners or get into the seam between the floor and the cabinets might not seem like much to you, but they’re definitely enough to attract rodents! Furthermore, doing a thorough cleaning between trips gives you an opportunity to give your RV a good once-over both inside and out, helping you identify any potential problems like water damage as early as possible. (Psst: here’s our guide on giving your RV a good cleaning out, whether for spring cleaning or just for some time in storage.)
If you’d really like to get ahead of the mouse problem, you can add in some traps and deterrents on top of making the space squeaky clean. Certain scents are thought to keep mice at bay and don’t require adding any toxic chemicals to your RV’s living space; suggestions include peppermint oil, mothballs, pine needle spray, dryer sheets, and even Irish Spring bar soap. We know — weird!
You can apply these items to areas where mice might be hanging out: think places close to the ground (like that seam between the kitchen floor and the cabinets we were talking about), or even inside the cabinets themselves. After all, that’s where all the food smells are. You can also put in mouse traps just to make sure all your bases are thoroughly covered… but do keep in mind that if there are any mice and they get stuck in the traps, you’re going to find them there when you come back to your RV to get ready for your next trip.
Getting Rid of Mice in the RV
While learning how to keep mice and rats out of your RV is the most ideal way to combat the problem, sometimes, you just can’t get ahead of those little feet and noses — in which case, you’re going to have to grab some supplies and go to battle.
If you already have mice or rats in your RV, here are some ways to get rid of them.
Get rid of all vulnerable food sources. Anything boxed or bagged, even if it doesn’t look like it’s been nibbled on, may have been… and you don’t want to be sharing food with those critters. Along with crackers, chips, and other pantry items, don’t forget about the following which are easy targets for hungry mice:
- Packaged, powdered coffee creamer
- Sugar, flour, and other baking ingredients
- Uncooked pasta
- Dried fruit, nuts, and trail mix
- Granola bars
Once you’ve gotten rid of all these food items and done a thorough cleaning of any remnants — i.e., droppings — the mice have left behind, it’s time to get serious about doing away with the horde. There are both natural and less-than-natural ways to combat pest rodents.
As mentioned above, there are a wide variety of natural scents and products that are at the very least rumored to get rid of mice. However, once you have a bona fide mouse problem underway, these might not be strong enough to deal with the problem quickly and effectively.
That said, it’s never a bad idea to add some peppermint oil or mothballs to your cabinet to help prevent future visits from more mousey friends. But in the meantime, you may need to amp up your game and turn to actual poisons and traps to get the job done.
Commercial rat and rodent poisons are available and work by imitating natural sources of mouse food. Hungry mice eat the poison and then return to their hideaway, where they die.
However, some people don’t feel good about using rodent poisons in their RVs or homes — and not only because mice are pretty cute in their own right. What’s poisonous to mice and rats may also be poisonous to pets and children, and introduces a toxin to your environment that wasn’t already there.
This is why many RV owners, when faced with a rodent problem, resolve to use traps instead.
While still not totally cruelty-free, traps are a way to control mice, rats, and pest rodents without introducing a toxin into your home (or, in this case, home on wheels). There are a variety of different types of mousetraps available on the market.
- Box traps work by luring the mouse in with bait and then trapping the mouse inside the box with no way to exit. In theory, you could collect box traps with still-living mice inside them and release them outdoors, though most people usually simply dispose of the boxes once they’re full.
- Glue traps are simple but effective: you place these sticky sheets in areas where mice are likely to travel, and when the mouse steps on the trap, its feet get stuck and it can’t move. Glue traps are affordable, easy to use, and small enough to fit in areas that may not be usable with larger traps, such as below your windows along the kitchen counter.
- Old-fashioned spring traps are the type you remember from Saturday morning cartoons, and they work just as advertised. Although some users may see them as barbaric, they can be a really effective way to kill off the mice you have… which, combined with targeted cleaning efforts, can lead to a pest-free area in no time.
Tips for Keeping Mice Off of Your RV
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure — and once you do have mice or rats in your RV, it can be downright difficult to eradicate them entirely. Here are some more tips to keep in mind for keeping those pesky rodents away from your rig, particularly during long periods of storage.
Invest in an RV cover.
If you’re wondering how to keep mice out of your RV in winter, we highly recommend investing in a high-quality RV cover. Although keeping all your doors and windows closed is the first step to keeping mice from getting in, during the wintertime, rain, and cold make your rig seem even cozier to these little rodents… especially if it still smells like food in there. A durable RV cover adds another layer of insulation against the pitter-patter of little paws, to say nothing of its ability to keep your rig’s paint job and exterior from weather- and debris-related damage. Here’s more to know about how to choose and use an RV cover.
Inspect your RV thoroughly.
As mentioned above, one of the reasons it’s so common for RV owners to run into a mouse problem is because there are just so many darn places that are vulnerable in an RV. Take a good, close look at all the places that could let unwanted guests into your travel trailer or motorhome, such as the seams along your slide-out, the outer casing of your HVAC system, door and window gaskets, and even gaps along the underside of your RV by the sewer, water, or electrical lines.
Why Is It Important to Keep Mice Out of Your RV?
Finally, you may be wondering why keeping mice out of your RV is so important in the first place. After all, they’re creatures too, and they do need a place to live. Many people even keep mice and rats as pets!
But unfortunately, when it comes to RV camping, mice are pretty terrible houseguests. As they eat the food in your cabinets, they leave their droppings behind, creating a mess and potentially spreading harmful diseases to your family. Rodents were the carrier of the bubonic plague all those years ago, don’t forget!
As if making a mess and potentially making you sick weren’t enough, mice are also prolific breeders… which means that once you have a few, you’re bound to have more sooner than later. Together, mice will wreak havoc on your RV’s interior, not only by leaving droppings and urine all over but also by potentially chewing through wood, particleboard, and electrical lines.
In short: no matter how much of an animal lover you are, you really, really don’t want mice to live in your RV with you. We promise. (At least if they’re not in a cage.)
Keeping Mice Out of My RV: FAQs
Now that we’ve covered the basics about keeping mice out of your home on wheels, let’s finish it out with answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the topic.
How do mice get into an RV in the first place?
Mice are wily little creatures, and they can find all sorts of ways to get into your RV. Although open doors and windows work, particularly if the screens attached aren’t sound, mice can also find their way into your rig through broken seams and seals around these entryways, or through gaps in the underside of your rig where your sewer, water, and electrical lines are.
Because mice are so ingenious about finding their way into places they’re not welcome, it’s super important to protect your rig by keeping it locked up safe and sound. Always close and seal all doors and windows before storing your rig, and double-check other ports of entry, such as vent fans, seams, and gaskets!
What attracts mice to my RV?
The same thing that attracts you to your RV: food and shelter! Mice have well-trained noses and they can smell the last meal (or six) you cooked in your rig. If you leave nonperishable food items onboard during storage, they can smell those too, and they spell survival to a scavenger of a creature like a mouse or a rat.
RVs also, of course, provide warmth, shelter, and comfort, which are particularly attractive to rodents during the wintertime when there’s inclement weather. That’s why you want to work ahead of the mice to make your RV as non-mouse-hospitable as possible because otherwise, they’re definitely going to take advantage of the opportunity!
Can you tell me how to keep mice out when my RV is in storage?
Storage is one of the main places RV owners end up with mice. Not only is your RV being left untouched for weeks, or possibly even months, at a time, but it’s also surrounded by other peoples’ RVs (and other peoples’ stuff in general), which may not be as well cleaned or taken care of as your own.
Keeping your doors, windows, and vent fans shut, as well as inspecting every inch of your RV for potential mouse entryways, is a good first step to keeping mice out of your RV while it’s in storage. You definitely also want to ensure the rig is free from food and has been well-cleaned so it doesn’t smell like a meal to a mouse.
Finally, investing in a high-quality RV cover, as mentioned above, can add another useful layer between your camper and the mice who’d love to set up camp inside.
How do I mouse-proof my camper?
Although it’s nearly impossible to entirely “mouse-proof” your camper, combining the steps we’ve mentioned above will go a long way toward keeping them at bay. Combine a healthy cleaning routine with natural mouse deterrents, like peppermint oil and mothballs, and then consider adding traps as the final touch to protecting your vacation vehicle from unwanted vacationers.
Psst: know one sure-fire way to keep mice out of your camper? Keep it in use all year round and avoid letting it sit in storage by putting it up for rent at RVshare! When your RV is lived in by people, it’s a lot less attractive to mice, and meanwhile, you’ll be making extra pocket money to put toward future adventures. It’s free and easy to get started, so list your RV today!
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