How Not to Keep Mice Out of an RV

Posted In: "How To", National Parks, RV Lifestyle, Video, Wildlife

First, allow me to address any fears. We’ve received a few panicked emails from worried newcomers to RV camping. “Is this normal?” they ask, after watching our mouse video.

No. What’s depicted in our video is certainly not normal. Our little mouse video represents an almost “worst case scenario” when it comes to mice. (The absolute worst case would be contracting hantovirus from the little buggers.)

No. What’s depicted in our video is certainly not normal. Our little mouse video represents an almost “worst case scenario” when it comes to mice.

Indeed, while camping in one of our favorite national parks, we suffered a complete and ongoing mouse infestation. Over the course of 2 weeks, we caught 14 mice inside our trailer! In hindsight, I remain a little flabbergasted at that stunning number.

But it really happened, as is documented here. And no, we were NOT catching the same mice every night. The mice we captured were each unique, as we released the caught critters some 2 or 3 miles down the road from our campground.

Some people ask, “Why didn’t you just patch up the entry holes in your Airstream?” Well, that’s certainly the best long term approach to handling a mice issue. But it’s easier said than done, especially when you are already on the road camping in a national park.

We really didn’t know exactly how or where the mice were getting inside our trailer. We suspected the rear power cord access area. But when we began closing that area at night, the mice kept on coming in…

The other clear weak spot was our Airstream step. A few years ago, we suffered some road damage to the undercarriage, and there was definitely a significant gap in the panel through which a mouse could easily pass. However, the panel itself was located well off the ground – so the mice would need to be jumping onto the trailer to gain access. In any event, we subsequently had this panel repaired at Vinnie’s Northbay Airstream Repair – so it is no longer such a weak point.

The upshot? We will seal every gap we can find in our trailer so as to make entry for mice more difficult. But since mice lack collarbones, they can squeeze through extremely small spaces. The only limiting factor for a mouse is the size of its skull. If there’s a 2cm gap anywhere in the undercarriage, mice can gain entry. Sadly, the typical RV is not built to the same tolerances as the typical car. Beneath just about every RV there are gaps. The question is whether the mice can access said gaps.

Next question: “Why didn’t you just kill the mice with snap traps?” There were a few different factors at play here.

As discussed in the video, it’s probably technically illegal to enter a national park and start killing animals you don’t like. Although the Park Service would probably look the other way (especially considering the disease concerns), we wanted to find another solution.

Believe it or not, mice are important members of the National Park ecosystem. Owls, hawks, and other predators rely upon mice as an important food source. It just doesn’t seem right to enter a national park, where wildlife is supposed to be protected, and start killing off the indigenous residents.

Believe it or not, mice are important members of the National Park ecosystem. Owls, hawks, and other predators rely upon mice as an important food source.

Arguably, the Tin Cat “catch and release” solution was the most effective choice because it could catch multiple mice at one time (as opposed to snap traps that kill one mouse at a time).

When you think about it, the difference between killing and releasing mice has to do with disposal. In either case, you end up handling a trap. If releasing the mice, you must do a little extra work – the key is to release the critters far away from any human habitation.

Anyway, in all of our years of travel with an Airstream, this was by far the worst experience with mice we’d ever had. In fact, we’d never caught a single rodent inside our Airstream until this episode.

So don’t let the freakish events of this video dissuade you from camping. Just be ready, in case it ever happens to you.


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