Finding 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 You Should Worry About Mice in Your RV (or at Your Campsite)
Mice are incredibly destructive small 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’s a good chance that before long, they’ll build a nest and multiply.
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 crumbs drop.
Even if they’re only stopping by for a night, a mouse can chew through plenty of things to reach food. They’re known to chew clothes, walls, containers, and food packages. If a rodent has accessed your food, it isn’t advisable to eat it because it could be carrying a disease. So, throw it out.
If you’re traveling in the winter months, you may notice a higher volume of rodent droppings around your campsite. Since it’s colder, even in desert regions like Utah and Arizona, mice seek warm refuge and easy access to food in your camper.
Preventative Measures to Keep Mice Away
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 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.
When in use, even if it’s 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 make 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 also keeps your living space looking nice.
If you’re 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).
Check the Interior and Exterior of Your RV 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 minimizes their access to the camper’s interior.
Store Your Rig on a Concrete Surface
It’s 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 a fine storage location, keeping your RV on the ground or near wooded areas for extended periods is an invitation for critters.
Even with a well-cleaned camper, you’ll probably find a few mouse nests inside if you stored it near the woods or on the grass for a few months.
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’s 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’s probably just a little dusty. Rinse the dust off, let it dry, and put it back in place.
What to Do if Mice Enter Your RV
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 can be effective, and you can release them 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 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.