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Though we would all prefer to be out traveling and enjoying the RV lifestyle all the time, for most of us that isn’t the case.
Our RVs must sit in storage — often for long periods of time — especially in the winter.
In the northern areas of the country, this can mean in the backyard, surrounded by nature, and with enough snow that creatures will be scurrying around trying to secure a warm spot inside.
Mice, squirrels, and other little creatures can do a lot of damage to an RV during those winter months. They chew incessantly in their effort to build nests or find food.
For myself, it’s been an ongoing battle. But after years of trying different ways to stop them, I seem to be making some progress!
6 Signs You Might Have A Rodent Infestation
The first step is recognizing you have a problem.
Here are some signs that rodents have taken up residence in your RV, and ways to stop them before they do any damage:
#1: You find mouse droppings in your RV’s kitchen drawers and cabinets.
Why it happens: The hole in the floor where plumbing fittings and lines enter (under the cupboards) is likely much larger than needed.
What you should do: Close the gap and seal it up completely with spray foam insulation.
#2: You see holes chewed through the bedding in your RV. The mattress might even be damaged by chewing.
Why it happens: Rodents love to build nests and will chew up anything they can to insulate there home.
What you can do: I place mothballs in bowls on the bed and in any cupboards where linens are stored.
#3: You find pinecones or other natural food sources stored under pillows and other secretive spots inside your RV. (Brazen squirrels got into my motorhome last year, and under every accent pillow they had stashed pinecones.)
Why it happens: Rodents are bringing their food source indoors where it’s warmer.
What you can do: I clean them out every weekend. But by the next weekend, the supply has usually replenished itself.
#4: You see evidence that rodents have been on your RV’s dashboard — because sunny motorhome windshield spaces are a rodent’s favorite space to warm up. I’ve actually walked up to my motorhome only to see a big gray squirrel sunning himself on the dashboard.
Why it happens: It wasn’t until spring that I found the squirrel had removed the spray insulation foam (that was installed during manufacture) from a firewall opening. He had quicker access than I had through the main entry door.
#5: You notice that rodents are using your RV’s engine compartments as storage areas.
Why it happens: Every spring, I open the engine dog house and inspect the area. I usually find scraps from pinecones and nesting material tucked into engine cavities — because it’s warm there and easy for critters to get to.
What you can do: Always check your RV’s air intake and air filters before starting the engine that first time. You could be sucking all kinds of junk into the engine if you don’t.
#6: You find boxes of dry goods chewed open.
Why it happens: If you leave any food source inside your RV, the rodents will find it!
What you can do: Not only should you remove canned goods to prevent freezing, you also need to remove anything that could be remotely considered a food source for critters. Even those little condiment packets are a gourmet meal for a mouse.
How To Keep Mice Away (…And Other Rodents Too)
I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no one thing you can do to eliminate the problem completely.
It takes a multiple front attack to make much of a difference when you have a rodent infestation inside your RV.
These are the tools I use in my war on critters:
- Mouse traps – Baited with either cheese or peanut butter, the standard mouse trap has been very effective for me.
- Rat traps – These are large enough to take out a good sized squirrel. I’ve found that squirrels are the most destructive of winter pests, they will do a lot of damage in there quest to build the perfect nest.
- D-con or other commercial rodent poisons – So far, this hasn’t accomplished much for me. I’ve never noticed any of the trays to be disturbed. I think they can smell the poison and just know not to mess with it.
- Ultrasonic rodent repellers – About the only thing affected by these noise makers is human beings. They will drive you crazy, but have little effect on rodents.
- Mothballs – These have been the most successful item in my tool bag. I place small bowls of them throughout the motorhome — on the bed, in corners along the floor and countertops, etc. So far, I’ve avoided any further damage.
Most important in your struggle to keep the upper hand — especially with a mice problem — is to do a regular inspection of your RV.
My motorhome is stored at my cabin. Every time I go there, I step inside the RV and check the traps and look for signs of nesting.
So far this winter I’ve bagged one mouse, seen no signs of squirrel activity, and — most important — I’ve seen no damage.
I’ve been involved in RVing for over 50 years — including camping, building, repairing, and even selling RVs and motorhomes. I’ve owned, used, and repaired almost every class and style of RV ever made. I do all of my own repair work. My other interests include cooking, living with an aging dog, and dealing with diabetic issues. If you can combine a grease monkey with a computer geek, throw in a touch of information nut and organization freak, combined with a little bit of storyteller… you’ve got a good idea of who I am. To date, I've shared my RV knowledge in over 300 articles here at The Fun Times Guide!