World War III: Our RV vs. pack rats, mice and scorpions

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By Nanci Dixon
Pack rats, mice and scorpions, oh my!

We were inundated with all three. Sometimes all three at the same time and sometimes separately. But no matter if all together or separate… they were disgusting.

Our biggest battle, and a battle it was, occurred this summer. Mice, we had adjusted to. We know they have collapsible bone structure and can get through a hole the size of a dime. If we found any evidence of them (commonly known as mouse poop), out came the traps and chunky peanut butter. The key is to get them early before any live births occur, and then try to locate and seal their entrance point. 

This year it was under the gas pedal. Filled that with steel wool. Followed their evidence path to the front of the motorhome, pulled out the generator, and to our horror found that the little buggers had gnawed wires, chewed a huge hole through the foam insulation and made an entrance to our motorhome.

We wrapped the wires, filled the hole with steel wool and foamed the area up, hoping of course that they were gone and we hadn’t sealed them in from both directions. Double checked with a few pieces of popcorn on the floor, and found their other entrance point – the sewer hose opening in the wet bay. It was a veritable highway to food. Our food.

That led us to the dollar store. We bought two cheap toilet plungers and cut them to fit securely around the sewer hose opening. Then we added copper scrubbing pads to deter further. I used copper ones after the steel wool rusted.

We were good! No more mice… But then came the pack rats (though not in the motorhome, thank goodness). I would have had to vacate permanently but the evidence was all over the ground outside the RV. It started when my husband cleaned off the pack rat nest on our neighbor’s motorhome engine, and then cleaned the nest on his pickup truck engine. The rats went looking for a new home. Ours.

Steel wool was no deterrent. I think they use it for their nests. They love shiny metal stuff.  I noticed that aluminum foil was disappearing from our grill. They could take down the engine wiring in a single night. Our neighbors barely made it to the repair shop.

The lines were drawn. The battle was on.

We had always had rope lights under the motorhome, but I think they used them for a night light. Three trips to the hardware store and I was set: two large home electronic rodent deterrents, one under the generator in front and one under the diesel engine in back. They didn’t like those much and would make a wide circle to avoid. I also put rodent spray around the exterior. It smelled so good that I truly believe they thought it was room freshener. Bounce fabric softeners multiplied in every bay. Small battery-operated sonic deterrents in the car engine and in the house battery compartment. Started the generator and engine every day, sometimes twice a day.  

Still, there were droppings. I could follow their trail home – our home and toward our engine. Glue traps! Those should work! They did! … For a lizard. Not good. I threw out the glue traps and the lizard. During another trip to the hardware store, I gave in and bought rat traps. Placed them strategically at the wheels and whamo! Success! 

Ugh! I hadn’t actually seen one before. They look like huge rats… Wait they are huge rats! My husband was nowhere to be found. No way am I saving that trap! No way am I touching that trap! Snagged it with the awning pole and dumped in a garbage bag. Whenever my husband returned he was going to have to deal with the garbage bag.

And the scorpions? Well, after the pack rats, scorpions were no big deal, we just brushed them away being careful to not touch their very venomous stingers.

What have been your experiences with rodents, scorpions or other animals in your RV? Tell us in the comments below.

##RVT959

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Rick
2 months ago

Your idea of the plungers seems like it worked well. I made a ring that fit around my sewer hose out of old boogie board material. Sloped it so its wider at one side than the other and it fit very tightly around the hose and blocked the opening. I ALWAYS put it in place and never had a problem from that entrance. Old boogie board material can be used for a lot of things around the motorhome. I also use it around the air fill of the inside tire on the duallies. Keeps it from rubbing.

Montgomery D. Bonner
2 months ago

Fellow on YouTube who does all kind of testing of mouse deterrents. Dryer sheets are a failure, as is Irish Spring soap, and several other things. The fellows channel is called: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYbru-MPO1xjes4FVn61JUQ – He has tried all of the rumors on mice/rats, etc.

Montgomery D. Bonner
2 months ago

Rodents chewing wires is an ongoing issue, because the environmentalists demanded the wire manufacturer’s make the insulation with something friendly to the environment. Hence, they started making automotive wire with soy based formula. The rodents love the stuff. It caused me to have a 400 dollar rewire of the engine harness in the jeep. I had/have mice now in my RV, the old style traps, with peanut butter, and going to keep them bated/armed for ever. Not sure how they are getting in, but there are several paths, which because of slide motors/shafts which need to turn cannot be foamed up, They now have rubber dams on them, but that is not stopping them. They love the silicone spatula they ate up and the silicone water blade we use to keep shower dry with. Go Figure.

Michael
2 months ago

Check out Mousetrap Monday. He tested MANY deterrents. Almost none work. Including those obnoxious rope lights, ultra sonic devices, Irish Spring, moth balls, dryer sheets. I couldn’t find the site, but I remember mint oil and SOME strong peppers (not most) work.

Daryl Zier
2 months ago

Thanks for the plunger idea. I made them for the sewer and the electric yesterday.

Stuart Spilman
2 months ago

I walk counterclockwise three times around my rv during a full moon chanting “Mice and bugs BEGONE” and have not had a mouse, rat, or bad bug problem for years. Never mind what experts say, it works for me. 😉😆

Donn
2 months ago

Never had the problems you’ve had but the article is very instructive
as I never would’ve thought up the deal with the plunger heads.

Nita Taylor
2 months ago

Knock on wood, we haven’t had a problem with mice, rats or scorpions, our worst problem was an invasion of stink bugs that we acquired from a campground in Virginia. They were everywhere and we killed them by the hundreds with whatever means were at hand whenever we spotted one crawling. We live in Little Rock, so the rig is in storage whenever we are in the stick house. The first winter we were hopeful that the extreme cold and occasional freeze would do them in. Not so, I think they must be kin to roaches from the dark ages as nothing seemed to have an effect on them, not extreme cold, extreme heat, bouncing roads and the occasional pounce by one of the cats. Finally, after thorough searches for entry from the attic to the living area and every attempt to close those entry ways off, we THINK we may be rid of them. We only find the occasional shell of one of the critters now, but we are getting ready to sneak away for a couple of weeks, so we are keeping our fingers crossed.

Ellen
2 months ago

Knock on wood… after more than ten years of full-timing, we’ve never had a problem with any critters. We don’t have pets (or kids or grandkids) and I’m pretty meticulous about crumbs, so maybe that helps?

Wayne
2 months ago

I live in Arizona and in the open desert you can find a pack rat nest every 10 ft. We live on an acre and park our RV on the property under an aluminum shade. I tried everything for a few years. The only thing that works is to run strip lights completely around the RV. I have had no problems for two years.

Robert Stellmaker
2 months ago

I have boondocked for 10 years in the SW .I have never had any problems with mice or scorpions. An occasional spider is all.

linda irons
2 months ago

I agree with Dennis. Lights on and hood up. Our Hood permanently stays up. They will nest so quickly otherwise. A couple of years ago (with hood down) they (pack rats) chewed through the fuel line. Have not taken any chances since then.

Loren
2 months ago

First time I’ve ever heard of those sonic repeller’s actually working, even if just to have the mice detour around them!

Don
2 months ago

Our Coach lives in a pole barn, so rodents are always a possibility and we have a pest control service on contract who maintain “bait boxes” around the house and barn. I keep blue paper “shop towels” in both of our storage bays. When I recently found BOTH rolls chewed up, I knew we’d been invaded. I emptied both bays and found very neat little nests of blue paper toweling in both compartments. But almost no rodent poop, so it appeared they were brand new.
We had the pest folks come out and add another bait box, and had two of them relocated immediately adjacent to both ends of the barn. That seems to have done the trick. We’re also increasing our inspection frequency, though!

Dennis E Prichard
2 months ago

While volunteering at Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas, we found everyone raised the hood of their car/truck/etc. at night. Some even put a trouble light under the engine compartment turned on all night. This actually seemed to work as the varmints don’t like a lighted bedroom all night. You might try it.

littleleftie
2 months ago

I have read numerous stories about the hazards of pack rats while camping in desert areas. Were you parked on BLM land, as most of the others were? Or were you in an RV campground? One day we plan to travel to the southwestern states but after reading all of these stories, I am starting to rethink the wisdom of this!!