The discovery of chewed-through food bags or little mouse droppings in your camper isn’t rare. It’s tempting to think that in a camper, like in a house, mice aren’t going to be interested in visiting if you keep everything clean and tidy. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case!
Mice and other scavenging critters get used to camping areas where people often leave food scraps when they leave. They build their homes in these areas because they have near-constant easy access to food.
The best defense against mice when you’re camping is to prepare for their eventual arrival, and to use preventative measures to keep them out of your space.
Why worry about having mice in your camper or campsite?
Mice are incredibly destructive little creatures. They can sneak into unexpected places and they multiply fast. That means that once you have one or two mice in your camper, there is a good chance that before long, they’ll build a nest and have some baby mice. Trust us, you don’t want that!
Mice are food-driven animals. You’re most likely to discover them first by their poop droppings. Commonly you’ll find mouse droppings in food cabinets or drawers, near garbage bins, or tucked behind the oven where plenty of crumbs drop down.
Even if they are only stopping by for a night, a mouse can chew through plenty of things to reach food. They’ve been known to chew clothes, walls, containers, and of course, food packages. If a rodent has accessed your food, it isn’t advisable to eat it because they could be carrying a disease. Be sure to throw it out!
If you are traveling in the winter months, you may notice a higher volume of rodent droppings around your campsite. Since it is colder, even in desert regions like Utah and Arizona, mice seek warm refuge and easy access to food in your camper.
Use preventative measures to keep mice out of your camper
The best way to combat mice living in your camper is to set up preventative measures to keep them out. Here are some of the easiest ways to prevent mice from becoming your bunkmates:
Keep things clean
This may seem obvious, but we are serious! Keep your camper and your campsite as clean as possible. Cleanliness goes a long way with keeping out mice and other critters (big and small) that would love a bit of your camp food.
Before you put your camper in storage, do a deep clean.
When you take your camper out of storage, do a deep clean.
Then, while you are using it, even if it is just for a short trip, get into the habit of cleaning daily—or multiple times a day. It doesn’t have to take long, but simple tasks like keeping countertops, tables, and floors cleared of crumbs makes a big difference.
Wipe down cooking surfaces after use and do dishes right after a meal. Getting into these cleanliness habits not only eliminates the likelihood of mice, but it also keeps your living space looking nice!
If you are car camping, mice may visit your car or outdoor kitchen space looking for scraps. To keep them from getting into your stuff and chewing through food bags, consider using hard-sided bins that are more difficult to chew through. Don’t keep food in your tent, or you’re bound to get a few holes chewed through the bottom (not to mention you might get a visit from something bigger, like a bear).
Do an interior and exterior inspection for holes
If you already have a monthly cleaning or maintenance checklist, make sure that inspecting for mouse entrance points is on the list. Look for holes in the floor, cracks in connection points, and chew holes made at the back of cabinets.
Do this both inside and outside of the camper. If you find any places that could potentially be big enough for a mouse to fit through, fill it. Mice can fit through holes as small as a dime, and sometimes smaller. This will minimize their access to the camper’s interior.
When your camper isn’t in use, store it on concrete
It is very common to simply store your camper where there is room. For many people, that means at the edge of the woods or in the yard next to the garage. While this seems like it is a fine storage location, keeping the camper on the ground or near wooded areas for extended periods is an invitation for critters.
Even with a well-cleaned camper, if you are storing the camper for a few months at a time, it will not be uncommon to find a few mouse nests inside if it was stored near the woods or on the grass.
Try to keep the camper in a garage if you have space, or at the very least, park it on cement. Mice don’t often freely crawl around on hard surfaces if they can avoid it. It leaves them vulnerable, and it can be hard for them to navigate.
Employ peppermint and other mouse repellants
Though there is no hard and fast way to repel mice naturally, there are a few methods that some people swear by. One of those is to make homemade mouse repellants.
It’s said that one of the most effective scents to keep mice out of areas is peppermint. You can use peppermint leaves, spray, or oils. A cheap and easy way to do this is to soak cotton balls or make a peppermint oil spray to use at entrance points.
If you don’t like the peppermint scent, you can also use strategically placed bars of Irish Spring soap. This scent is said to repel mice quite well and doesn’t need to be replaced as often. If the soap starts to lose smell, it is probably just a little dusty. Rinse the dust off, let it dry, and put it back in place.
What to do when mice get into your camper
If all of your efforts have failed or you’ve discovered these mice-repellent tricks too late, then you may need to remove the mice from your space.
Live mice traps are quite effective, and you can release the little critters back into the wild unharmed. If you chose to go this route, it’s best to release them far away from the campsite. Other options include traditional mouse traps and ultrasonic pest repellents.
Dealing with mice and other small critters is a small but pesky part of camping. By using these simple tips, you can encourage them to stay away from your camper or campsite for good.