My War with Mice
We have a small camper; it’s parked in a storage lot in upstate New York. After years of finding black rice shaped droppings – I declared war. They were in the silverware drawer (yuck), mixed in with clothing, in the sink, on the rug – yup; the little fiends had moved in. And, they had the home field advantage. The camper is parked outdoors 60 miles north of Manhattan, and it is left un-attended for weeks at a time. This presented several logistical problems. Traps were definitely out. They would be caught, then die a cruel death – and rot, adding a profound odor!
Thus the only solution was to keep them out. That is virtually impossible. They can enter a space the size of a dime. The camper is well sealed, but obviously not perfectly. The “royal road” in seemed to be the ventilation system of the Chevy Silverado. And, some not so perfect seams in the camper body itself. We tried to find all locations and seal them with steel wool, nope – try as we might they still got in. Eventually, I realized the only solution would be to make them not want to come in – to make the camper very “hostile” to the tiny furry fiends.
A combination of passive and active deterrents evolved. First the passive – taking advantage of the fact that, to my surprise; the mice like to keep themselves clean. We concocted a mix of some very strong peppers. Fiery hot stuff, some powdered some flakes. It seems that when the pepper sticks to their feet, they lick themselves clean. That, and their “sniffing” their way; now with a lot of mouse sneezing was a start. BTW: wear eye goggles when applying! Of course anything that could be eaten had to be removed. They even nibbled at a bar of soap by the sink!
Next I installed several active deterrents. The easiest to install were ultrasonic “rodent chasers” powered by 9 volt batteries. Half a dozen were installed in the camper, behind drawers, by the front ventilation ducts (floor level), by the sink and on the ceiling. Three additional weather proof 12V high power ones were added: under the hood, bottom center on the undercarriage, and one in the generator compartment at the rear. That had to make a real racket – fortunately we are old enough to have lost our “upper frequency” hearing – so the ultrasonic stuff stays on.
As we had solar panels on the roof, tapping into 12V would not deplete the battery. This allowed for use of some devices that used considerably more electric. I obtained a Bird-X Transonic Pro noisemaker. Cutting off the AC to 12V transformer, I replaced the AC plug with a cigarette lighter plug; as the device is really a 12V device. Setting it for “mouse / loud” made a terrible racket. Of course this was to be used when we were away for a while.
Lastly, was the implementation of Peppermint Oil. They hate the smell, and a real concentration of the vapor stings the eyes. I put a very small fan blowing across the top of the jar with the oil to move the fumes around. But, the oil would freeze in cold weather and needed to be kept warm for it to vaporize. Into the jar of oil went two USB hand warmers that ran at a constant 110 degrees F. They were metal and sealed such that they would not short out. But, to be safe – where the cord went into the oil remained above the level of the oil.
Victory! Look as I might, not a single “I was here” mouse pellet. To enter the camper it’s necessary to open the Chevy doors and let the fumes blow out for a few minutes. Then it’s time to go in to disconnect the noisemaker. The camper smells like a candy store for a few days!