Tips to Keep Pesky Mice Out of Your RV

Next to a water leak a rodent infestation can be one of the most damaging and unpleasant things that can happen to our beloved RV. They can get into the innards of our rigs leaving behind a mess as they chew and relieve themselves all over the place. Even worse they may chew on electrical wires causing a hard to repair failure. Sometimes a whole wall may have to be removed to perform the necessary repairs.

I myself have been very lucky and have only had a couple mice evade our home on wheels. Each time at the frantic urging of my wife it was my job to expel the invader.  I found the good old tried and true wire snap trap with peanut butter did the trick quickly.

No Mouse

Since then I’ve paid attention to how others have handled mice problems in the RV noting their solutions. It seems there is no magical bullet for all mice. Some things work for one person but not for another.

But to help RVers facing a mouse problem I’ve decided to put out this list of tips and tricks. Hopefully, they will be of help when battling the furry little home wreckers.

Note: Many of these tips were found this RV Happy Hour forum thread. Thanks to those folks for their advice.

Block Mice Access to the RV

The first thing to do is stop the little buggers from coming in to have a look around. Our RVs have many access points for something as small as a mouse. If they can get their head through an opening the rest of the body can follow. For a small mouse, this may only be the size of a dime.

Here are some tips to help block openings:

Spray FoamExpanding foam in a can is a great way to fill in cracks and tiny holes since it can be easily removed if need be. Pay special attention to the underside of the rig, inside the storage compartments and around plumbing feed through holes.

Steel Wool – For more aggressive mice that may like to chew their way through foam try adding in some steel wool to the mix. Chewing on the sharp steel fibers should deter them.

Xcluder – Commercial grade stainless steel non-rusting mesh used by professionals to block openings.

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Screens – Use fine mesh screens on any larger openings like vents, access ports, and piping.

Power Cord Hole – If your rig uses a feed through for the power cord some call a “Mouse Hole” consider doing what I did and install a fixed receptacle instead. One less pest access hole to worry about.

Metal Rings – Fashion metal rigs out of sheet metal and place on the ground around tires and jacks. Make them tall enough so mice can’t get over usually around 8 inches will do the trick.

Mouse prevention ring

Make the RV Less Appealing

Remove any food – Probably goes without saying but don’t leave any sort of food where a mouse could access it. One time I invited a mouse into our fifth wheel when I used the basement storage area for a bag of potatoes.

Seal Pet Food – Due to space constraints sometimes pet food needs to be stored in an outside compartment. Make sure to use a plastic sealed container.

Remove weird things they may eat – It’s not just food to be concerned about either. Mice will eat the strangest things to survive. I once had a mouse living in the front storage bay of the trailer because I was storing a fire log there made of recycled coffee grounds. Judging by the amount gnawed off the log he loved it!

Remove all paper products, clothing, and towels, etc. – When mice move in they will want to build a nest to start making more mice. Make sure there aren’t materials left in the RV to help them out with this.

Add night time lighting – When I first started camping in the desert I noticed in some locations folks would leave their vehicle hoods up. How strange I thought. Turns out that nocturnal rodents don’t like light and it kept the desert pack rats from nesting in the engine area and chewing on the electrical wires. Many of the extended-stay RVers had rope lights laid out under the rig for just this reason.

Commercial Mouse Deterrents

I’ve had several RVing friends recommend these products to me as effective deterrents.

Fresh Cab – Little pouches of botanical material that mice hate. You place a few around the RV and the mice stay away. They need to be renewed once in a while as the scent diminishes.

Mouse Free – This stuff gets sprayed on the undercarriage of the trailer or motorhome keeping the mice from entering.

Home Brewed Solutions

If you find the commercial mouse deterrents a little on the pricey side here are a few common household products people have had success with.

Fabric Softener Sheets – Spread dryer sheets all over the RV when it’s in storage to keep mice away. Then when you take it out put the sheets in a plastic bag and use them for laundry.

Irish Spring Soap – Same idea as the dry sheets. Supposedly mice hate the smell.

Moth Balls – Some folks use these at the entry points to dissuade mice. Keep in mind though they are toxic and may harm a child or pet.

Peppermint Oil – Soak cotton balls with it and leave in the mice infested area. Must be refreshed often.

Trapping the Mouse

I used to have a mouse problem in my old TV & Radio repair shop so I tried many traps ranging from sticky glue pads to humane non-lethal types. However, nothing worked as well for me as the original wire snap trap.

Victor Snap Trap Mouse Trap

Another effective trap I’ve had recommended to me by a retired pest management professional is called the Mini T-Rex trap.

Cleaning up after a Mouse

Clean a mouse infested area with a bleach and water mix. Use gloves and paper towels. Don’t vacuum or sweep mouse droppings or nests. Care needs to be taken as rodent droppings can carry nasty diseases.

Here is a link to advanced information on cleaning up a rodent infestation from the CDC.


Well I hope these tips help with your RV mouse problems. If anyone has other tips or tricks for dealing with mice in the RV leave a comment or send them my way and I’ll add them to the post. Cheers Ray

See More RVing Tips and Tricks in the Love Your RV! archives

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  • Jeff Ledford

    Use Mini T-Rex traps. They are easy to set and easy to get rid of the trapped critter. And instead of just steel wool, get some Xcluder. As a retired pest management professional, I used these with fantastic results.

    • Thanks for the pro advice Jeff. I’ve added those tips to the post. Cheers! Ray

  • Thanks for the tips Ray, Mice are big headache.

  • Ed H

    Ray
    Another one of your thorough and well written posts containing very helpful advice! We have used a number of your recommended strategies, and (I am happy to say), during the last year have not any mice problems. A few that worked particularly well, included crawling under the rig and looking for any and all potential entry points, and sealing with wire mesh (we used coppper) and spray foam. Then we took everything out of the storage basement, and did the same. Also, don’t forget areas such as the cabinet for the water and electrical hoses, and the slide mechanisms. We use well sealed food storage containers, store all of our food in (and try not to leave any food out on the counters for more than short periods of time). Finally, in our rig all of the mice have entered through the basement, so we keep an ultrasonic rodent repellent there, as well as fresh cab mesh bags, and loaded mouse traps. We try to store everything that is in the basement in rubber storage containers with tops. We also use rope lights at night under the rig (Fifth Wheel) and truck whenever we are parked in areas that may have a high number of rodents (i.e. desert, near woods, etc.) – Ed

    • Thanks for the comment Ed. Lots of good tips there. Cheers.

  • Constant Critic

    Hi Ray,
    I lived in a place with a mouse problem for a while and I can tell you, the mice get used to strong smells. The Irish Spring would would burn my nose and throat and make my eyes water but the mice would lick it and leave piles of poo around it. Now I get mice living on top of my engine when I park for a long while. They leave a smell that attracts more mice after you clean them out. I’ve had mice travel with me across the country. Sometimes they drop out when I stop and sit there under the RV in a state of shock. They seem to survive the heat of the engine though the intake manifold is probly cooler. Last month I found two nests, one with three baby mice. They built those pretty quickly out of juniper bark and traveled 400 miles with me before I noticed. They really hate Lime Away and similar products. It literally burns their eyes and nose so periodic spraying can keep them away. Lucky for me, they haven’t found a way inside, yet.