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RV design makes mice infestation easy

By Chuck Woodbury
PUBLISHER

Sometimes you shake your head and wonder at something so outrageous that you marvel how it came to be. Here’s an example.

Emily and I attended a Seattle-area RV show a couple of weeks ago. One of our advertisers, Tom Sharp, had a booth and we wanted to meet him. Tom invented and sells a product called BoxKat. It’s for RVers and motorists who have problems with mice entering their vehicles and chewing wires. It’s a huge, costly problem, which you know if it’s happened to you (60% of our readers report it has).

Emily and I visited with Tom, a very enthusiastic and talkative man. We discussed mice and mice prevention. The most important way to keep them away, we all agreed, is to prevent them from entering our RVs or other vehicles to begin with. That’s where Tom’s product comes in.

Later, we explored some of the RVs on display. And, oh, my goodness, were we befuddled when we came upon a travel trailer with a ridiculous design flaw that begs rodents to come in, chew, and end up costing the RV’s owner a bundle to fix. I took photos. Everyone I have shown them to so far has marveled at how the design is one of the stupidest they have seen on an RV.

Oh … but don’t tell the mice. When they see it, if they could speak, they would certainly look to the sky and say, “Thank you, Mouse Lord in Heaven.”

Look at the photo directly below: It’s the vanity in the bathroom. Do you see where the water drain pipe exits the RV? Look at the huge opening. Methinks a mouse might observe all that space and decide to climb right up!

The photo below shows the area better. Keep in mind that all it takes for a mouse to enter an RV is a hole or other gap the size of a dime.

Emily, thinking it couldn’t possibly be an actual hole, stuck her whole hand down and out. Yup. It is indeed a hole straight into the outside world, a mouse’s outside world…

I did not have my writer’s cap on when I looked around this RV so I did not carefully document the scene. And I can’t remember the make or model of RV other than it was a trailer. But that’s not important. The point is to know that construction flaws exist and for a potential buyer not to assume everything is right.

I cannot tell you if a mouse could easily climb from inside the cabinet into the RV’s living space, but I suspect it could. At the very least, it would be a huge shock to an RVer to open the cabinet and have Mickey or Minnie shoot out — not to mention many other critters, too! If the RV was being stored, a mice or other rodent family would have a comfy, relatively warm nest, pooping and peeing at will, for you to somehow scrub away later.

But, really, the wide opening in the floor is just an example of the cheap, rushed and often crappy construction in many of today’s bargain-priced RVs. Emily and I only had time to explore a couple dozen rigs, but we found at least minor flaws in most of them.

I have repeatedly advised, along with our other writers and many of our readers, to inspect any RV you plan to purchase very, very carefully, from top to bottom. I imagine someone at the show ended up buying this trailer without even opening the cupboard door. I hope they like mice or find the opening and seal it up before the rodents take up residence.

##RVT1048

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Bob p
2 months ago

When we first bought our TT I bought the spray foam insulation, to my surprise when I got ready to go under and seal all the openings I found the manufacturer had all ready done so. They even sealed where the spring hangars come through the sealed underbelly, manufacturer; Mesa Ridge.

TJGrant
2 months ago

When installing electric or water lines at the factory they cut holes that are three to four times bigger than needed. Not sure why. If I ever purchase another RV I will remove all drawers and inspect cabinets for openings Including where the hot water heater is. To close off openings. Unbelievable how big they make the holes to run small diameter wire and water lines.

Bob p
2 months ago
Reply to  TJGrant

It’s done for speed in assembly, it’s much easier to put something through a big hole than try to force it through a hole just the right size, and it’s less expensive to leave instead of installing a proper cover which would increase assembly time by at least 15 seconds. But if you’re building 40 units a day that adds up to an extra 10 minutes for each employee. Wow!

BILLY Bob Thronton
2 months ago

Look over your access points. Buy expanding foam (black, for ponds its prettier) pack of fine steel wool. Wedge the areas with the wool, and coat the wool. Start in the most remote corner, to overcome the learning curve, if you’ve never worked with the foam before. They hate wool dental floss and will reduce their entry events.

RV manufactures don’t care one bit about rodent entry, so be proactive and reduce your risk.

Steve
2 months ago

Great advice. Ditto what Billy Bob says about steel wool and foam.

Brenda
2 months ago

We did have one infestation — mama had babies in our AC vents. We didn’t know about the babies, so sealed the hole after mama left. So we were left with a smelly problem that exterminators had to come fix for us. We have sealed every access we can find, and used FreshCab since then and never had another issue.

Another problem, not just with these large holes but smaller joints where no pains are taken to seal them off, is loss of inside “conditioned” air (heat or cool). With more campgrounds beginning to use metered electricity, that could be another good reason to seal up those cracks.

Paul
2 months ago

We too have some problems with mice getting into our camper, usually during downtime when the camper has been winterized and goes unused until spring. I did see the picture in the article of the holes. While I agree campers do have holes but could there be a reason for that? Remember they are build to go down the road, and with the bouncing, and flexing going on not sure how they might fare without some extra room for to allow for that. But agreed that hole around that pipe is much too large. I will say that our older camper never had any mice issues. Be interesting to see if now (and it wouldn’t surprise me) the holes are larger than they were in older models and probably don’t need to be.

DMSimonds
2 months ago

Just another page in the saga of “….cheap made expensive crap.” as my RV tech guy calls it. At least this rig I have now has not had a critter problem. Are they making any travel trailers or even the smaller lighter 5ers that can be really towed by half-ton trucks these days that is quality made?
I asked my RV guy this question.
He just laughs, seen it all.
This is a subject I’d like to read some articles on.
Until then my wheels are chocked, and my Dodge RAM 1500 5.7 Hemi is my road rig. I’m tent and cap camping until the RV industry makes an RV I’ll hitch up to again.
Sigh.

tattoo
2 months ago

All I know is that all my past travel trailers and truck campers never never never had mice. this 2018 Salem lite travel trailer i have has had mice since day one camping in it. Do not say I leave food around for them I bring food every time i camp the only place i leave food is in the frig. the travel trailers today are a piece of crap for the price you pay.

Lisa Adcox
2 months ago

We changed out dresser in bedroom and found holes left by construction plus other places that would be hard to find. First RV was not as expensive but better about not seeing holes left behind. It was made by Heartland. Second one is where I had to fill in holes, Forest River.

Larry
2 months ago

No. If a rodent is inside, it will be almost assuredly a rat. And, rats eat mice. All the fantasy is in the Magic Kingdom and the only cuteness involving rodents is in cartoons. If a mouse senses a rat, it will head to the hills or nearest refuge in a wood pile to escape. Hardware cloth is a good barrier.

TeeCee
2 months ago

Mice are scouts for the inevitable rats that follow…and talk about damage. Whew, they’re the worse in my book.

Wayne
2 months ago

On our fifth when parked for a long time I put from legs in two cut down pails and add water(in winter Rv antifreeze).
Copper wool mixed with expanding foam to fill gaps. I fill the gear area on the slides with expanding foam.
if the trailer is plugged in for the winter I have left the radio loudly on a Country station.
No mice ever. If it didn’t work I’d put on Rap music…which I hate.

Suru
2 months ago

With our previous trailer every time we got to a campsite, the entire trailer would be full of dust and grit. The kitchen drawers would be full of dirt. We inspected and found on both sides of the trailer over the wheels were two huge (8″ x 12″) holes cut in the floor. The hole under the couch was for two Pex lines and the hole under the kitchen was for two Pex lines plus a drain pipe. Just laziness to cut that big of a hole and not fill it in so all the dirt kicked up by the tires came right in. Luckily where we live it’s too cold for rodents or I’m sure we would have had an infestation.

Donald N Wright
2 months ago

Gee whiz folks. critters crawl up powerlines and in every opening you and I do not see. When was the last time we poked around under a RV at night when all the lights turned on inside. Like stars in the sky. folks leave the ceiling exhaust vent cover open, guess who comes in. Do you think a plastic screen is going to stop a curious “mini bear” ?

Signmoney
2 months ago

We have a awful time with mice, mostly deer mice. We tried everything to keep them out of the camper. Irish spring soap- they eat it, but at least the camper smells good. Dryer sheets- they chew that up and use it for bedding. Cotton balls with peppermint oil on them also used for bedding, (peppermint only lasts for a few days). The best I have found is a simple trap. We lay down old newspaper and set traps on that. Don’t use peanut butter because they can lick it off. I use a nut and wedge it in so they can’t get it off very easily.( Walnut and pistachio nuts work the best for me) That gets them every time. I made small boxes out of pine boards with a hole in it. The lid screws on so I can open it up easily and set them around the camper outside with a trap in it. I get a few that way also. Never ends

Steve
2 months ago

Moving to Colorado might reduce your rodent problems. I have had 3 RVs stored in RV lots and on a gravel pad at my house. Not once have I ever had a mouse, rat, or squirrel problem with any of them. However, I have heard of RVs stored in the mountains (as well as cars) having wiring chewed off by porcupines.

On second thought, forget what I said. We have too many people here already! I am being facetious . . . more or less.

MattD
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve

HAHA! Our worst rodent problems WERE in Colorado, hands down. Deer mice and Pack Rats. Spanish Peaks area at 6400 ft. elev.

Neal Davis
2 months ago

I love the idea of a fence. I hope to convince DW that it is worth the cost. Thankfully RV #2 is now in production. It is smaller than current RV (#1), so perhaps the reduced cost will assist my persuasion effort.

Meanwhile, thank you for your huge, steady, and relentless contributions to RVers (and whatever parts of the industry that care to listen) over the years. I regularly page back through the books I bought during the last days of the RV Travel bookstore, which coincided with my early days learning about RVing. Ditto the DVDs similarly acquired. I must have bought a copy of just about everything that you still had at the time. Thank you for so much of my RVing education through all those acquisitions you provided then and the years of RV Travel newsletters for the last 14, or so, years!

Admin
RV Staff(@rvstaff)
2 months ago
Reply to  Neal Davis

Thanks for your very kind words, Neal! We appreciate them, and YOU! On the other topic, if you’ve looked at the BoxKat website, you’ll see the picture of Tom Sharp’s 1991 Acura NSX. That’s what he originally invented the product for, after mice did thousands of dollars worth of damage to his car more than once. So he now doesn’t have any issues with mice destroying his car, and he knows the product does the same for RVs. I think it’s a good investment. Good luck! And Happy Easter! 😀 –Diane

Jeff Skelton
2 months ago

We have feral cats around and keep the critter population in check. Pulled the cover off opened the slides and no issues.

Dennis
2 months ago

I keep my 30′ class A motorhome in a barn year ’round and have vastly reduced the amount of mice I catch inside the rig (1 in the past 6 months!) by positioning traps OUTSIDE the rig by my passenger side front tire. This was their preferred entry point for many, many years. I simply position 4 peanut butter baited snap traps (PIC brand is my preference) inside each of my 3 “Squirrelinator” brand traps. These “Squirrelinator” traps go anywhere from $50-$75 on-line but are worth every penny. I own 4. I utilize the 4th Squirrelinator trap on my kitchen floor with 6 baited snap traps inside, just in case. My rig is 24 years old with the original interior and all original wiring. Trust me, this method works fantastically. Don’t just use the snap traps without the Squirrelinator: any squirrels that do make it into the coach will “stash” the trapped, dead mice away as a future meal. Hopes this helps.

Julie Girard
2 months ago

Have had a 2017 LTV Unity since 2017. No mice have ever gotten inside. Only place they seem to find their way into is the engine compartment and the coach battery storage area, because they are both easy to enter. Have every gadget/repellent surrounding / under the RV. Have to give this company 5-Stars for buttoning up the areas that mice have always had easy access. I will never let my guard down, but am pretty pleased with this!

Irene
2 months ago

Another flaw is the foam they use for…not sure what. I looked and looked for my low point drain (which is definitely a lot higher than the grey/black water and clean water tank drains.) I was poking around under my travel trailer getting it ready for Spring, and there was this large foam blob with a tiny bit of white plastic showing. If I hadn’t seen the label “low point drain” I would never have known. I cut some large chunks of the foam away from the 2 caps so they are now at least accessible.
From the looks of that hole, steel wool would likely fall out with the vibrations of travel.

Last edited 2 months ago by Irene

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