Mice, rats, and other rodents are persistent little creatures. On one beautiful day, your seemingly impenetrable fortress of an RV may give in and allow a couple of rodents to make themselves at home. Then comes the headache of trying to drive them out, as well as the costs of repairing the damage caused by an infestation.
But how can you avoid this altogether? How to rodents proof a camper so you don’t have to deal with any infestations? Our goal today is to try and help you with finding an answer to these questions.
How to Rodent Proof Your Camper: Why Rodents are Bad
Rodent infestation isn’t merely an annoyance for RV owners. There are many other, more serious problems associated with mire or rats living alongside you in your recreational vehicle.
First of all, rodents cause damage to your RV, and the older the infestation, the costlier the repairs are going to be. Rodents can chew through almost anything to make themselves a living place and to find food. If you aren’t attentive and don’t spot an infestation early, virtually everything in your RV may require repairs.
Rodents also make nests inside the RV, often using the fragments of what they have chewed through. Aside from costs of repair, getting rid of these nests can get messy.
Perhaps the biggest threat coming from rodents is that they can spread disease. Thus, rodent infestation is costly not only for your wallet but also for your health. Keeping rodents out of your RV will allow you to not only avoid costly repair projects but also stay healthy during your trip.
How do rodents get into your RV in the first place?
From outside, it may seem that your RV doesn’t have any entryways for rodents. Besides, you might underestimate the ability of rodents to go through small openings. Mice can fit through holes sized as small as a dime, whereas rats only need openings the size of a nickel.
There are big and small rodents, obviously, but they generally don’t need too big of a hole to enter your RV. And besides, if the material the hole is in is soft enough for their teeth, they may just chew through it.
Rodents commonly enter RVs via the following ways:
- Poorly sealed slide outs.
- Gaps in plumbing or wiring.
- Plumbing, electrical, or other access panels.
- Cracks around doors.
- Gaps in the floor.
- Corners or cracks between wall panel pieces.
Keeping rodents away from your RV
The easiest way of dealing with a problem is preventing it. By protecting your RV and not allowing any rodents to enter, you won’t even have to deal with an infestation and the costs and health dangers associated with it.
As we’ve mentioned above, there are plenty of entry points through which rodents can easily make it into your RV. So the first line of your RV defense should be concentrated on making these entryways rodent-proof.
RVs are very different, and we can’t say what entry points it may have and where they may be. But the tips below should allow you to identify potential entry points on your own regardless of your RV type or model:
- Examine the bottom of your RV to spot gaps and holes.
- Look in the RV’s corners and along their edges for holes and gaps.
- Carefully investigate the areas where the RV’s plumbing and wiring come into your living area.
- If your RV has slide outs, check their seals. If a slide out isn’t sealed well enough, it may be an easy entry point for rodents.
- If there are access panels anywhere in your RV (e.g. the bathroom or the kitchen), remove them and look inside to spot potential entry points.
There’s one easy way of spotting undesired openings in your RV. At night, you may have someone shine a light at different areas of the RV and look for spots inside where the light shines through. You may do the same during the day as well, but it may be more difficult to notice any openings if it is too sunny.
This method probably won’t allow you to spot all potential entryways in your RV, but it is good enough to get started with. Don’t neglect the importance of looking for entry points in other areas which you can’t check with a light source.
After identifying gaps and holes, you need to seal them. There are many ways of sealing openings in RVs, with one easy solution being expanding spray foam. It is easy to apply, and it also quickly expands, dries, and seals the area of application.
Aside from that, the foam readily takes the shape of an opening, giving you a perfect seal if you do things right. However, with spray foam, you would need to be careful not to overdo it since large quantities of the foam could expand over a larger area than necessary and easily damage your RV.
Plus, there are some safety measures that you need to take in order to avoid particles of the foam getting into your body.
There is also a thing called steel wood. And we don’t mean the wool that is used for cleaning pans, we mean the kind that is designed to strip wood. Rodents are not going to chew through a good layer of steel wool, so it’s a great way of covering up holes and openings. And since steel wool is flexible, it is rather easy to place where you need it.
No matter which method of sealing you use, do the light test afterward to check whether the RV has been sealed properly. If not, repeat the procedure while keeping in mind that the light test isn’t going to work as a marker of sealing quality in all areas of your RV.
Proper storage of an RV
To keep rodents out of your RV, you can also change the location where it is parked. Relocating an RV isn’t going to make it 100%-rodent-proof, but it may be a good temporary solution if you can’t do repairs in your RV at the moment.
There is an increased chance of rodents getting into your RV if you store it outdoors near fields and open areas. If possible, park your recreational vehicle away from grassy or wooded areas on a hard surface. Rodents won’t go too far out from their colony in search of food or whatnot, so simply keeping an RV out of the reach of potential rodent habitat may do the trick.
The best option would perhaps be to park your RV in a garage. If you have a garage that’s big enough to take in your RV, then go ahead and park it inside. But you would then need to make sure that the garage itself is rodent-proof.
Rodents are attracted by food remains, seasoning or any other food sources that could attract them. You should remove any food items from your RV, regardless of whether it is okay to keep them there. Don’t count on storing food in plastic bins or other containers since the rodents may be able to chew through them.
Aside from that, do deep cleaning in your RV to ensure that there are no crumbs or other food remnants in it. Just like regular food, food remnants are going to strongly attract rodents to your RV.
While your RV is in storage, you would also want to do frequent checkups to see whether or not a rodent has made it in. Wherever you store your RV – whether at home or at a storage facility – inspect it as frequently as possible. If you have a motorhome, you should start its engine to scare away rodents that are located near the engine compartment.
A thing that should be also kept in mind is that rodents are frequently looking for a place to live in winter. Thereby, when storing your RV in the winter, you should be extra careful with the storage preparation measures.
In the winter, rodents will most likely be looking for warm materials to make nesting out of. Most commonly, they use fabrics and sometimes also newspapers or other paper products to make nests.
So before putting your RV away to storage, make sure to remove anything from it that may be used as nesting material, including towels, shirts, blankets, sofa covers, etc. And do this not only in winter but also at any time during the year when you store your RV.
No matter how brilliant your preventative measures are and no matter how clean your RV is, rodents may still be able to make it in. And if they do get into your RV, various rodent repellants become your last line of defense before you have to deal with an infestation.
A good rodent repellant is peppermint oil – rodents don’t like its smell and try to avoid it. It generally works for RVers quite well. Peppermint oil also smells pleasant to most people, so it’s a natural way of keeping rodents away. And more importantly, peppermint oil is safe for people.
On the other hand, peppermint oil can be quite a messy solution, especially in hard-to-reach areas. Due to this, there are variations of peppermint oil sold in pouches and specifically designed to repel rodents.
You may also improvise by soaking some cotton balls in peppermint oil and scattering them around your RV. Depending on the size of your RV, you may try 1 to 3 cotton balls soaked with peppermint oil in each compartment in your RV, e.g. the engine compartment, near the wheels, water/electrical basement compartment, kitchen cabinets, etc.
And all in all, going for commercial peppermint oil solutions designed to repel rodents is the most convenient option out there. They are going to cost some money, but they are less messy and easier to use. In addition, they are going to come with instructions so you won’t have to do any kind of guesswork.
There are other rodent repellent products available out there, but peppermint oil is considered as the most convenient and human-friendly method. Most importantly, it is quite effective at repelling rodents, so unless you have some specific requirements, stick to peppermint oil.
What if rodents do make it into your RV?
In the end, rodents may be able to break through all your lines of defense and make it into your RV. Moreover, this can happen not only while the RV is in storage but also when you are traveling. In areas infested with rodents, it is rather likely that a couple of unwanted passengers will climb into your RV.
If there is an infestation in your RV, it is important to identify it as soon as possible. The sooner you spot it, the easier and less costly it will be for you to get rid of it.
The most common signs of a rodent infestation are:
- Mouse droppings in the RV.
- Holes where they aren’t supposed to be.
- Nests, sometimes around bedding and mattresses.
- Chewed food or their packaging.
- Natural food brought by the rodents from outside.
If rodents have gotten into your RV in spite of all your planned-out defense lines, you will have to drive them out. Using traps is an effective way of getting rid of rodents. In addition, traps allow you to localize the spots where rodents hang out the most. If you discover that many rodents get trapped in some particular part of the camper, focus on it.
If no rodents are trapped after about a week, then you may assume that the infestation problem has been dealt with. After that, you might proceed to disinfect the RV by ventilating it, steam-cleaning upholstered surfaces, washing fabrics, etc.
Aside from that, you will need to do a new inspection in your RV to try and identify where the problem has come from. Maybe you’ve missed an opening somewhere, or the mice managed to chew through your barricades. Maybe, you’ve used too little of your repellant. Regardless of what you find, adjust your strategy and then wait for the results to assess it.
The last thing to keep in mind is that you need to be prepared to deal with a rodent infestation at any time. Don’t assume that your defense is going to hold up 100%. Mice and rats are very persistent, and not many things are able to truly stop them. So keep your guard up, look for signs of infestation, and take the necessary measures to get rid of it.
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