Looking for advice - rodent deterrence with lights

mbeckerpashambeckerpasha Member Posts: 14
Have a new [email protected] 400, "Boony". We live in Arizona where pack rats can creep into vehicles and destroy wiring. I am  looking for advice on purchasing, perhaps, string lighting to place under the camper at night. PR hate light. Any recommendations? Thanks!


  • VernaVerna Administrator Posts: 6,820
    Solar rope lights from Harbor Freight worked very well for when I was snow birdsong there. It takes about 3 rolls and make sure you get them inside your front tub. Also, one of the blue magnetic lights under your hood keep them out of your tow vehicles wiring. A lot of people keep the hood open about 12” in bad Pack Rat areas, as Pack Rats don’t like to see through to the light outside. 

    Roosevelt Lake and Organ pipe have really bad infestations of Pack Rats. 
    Verna, Columbus, IN
    2021 [email protected] 320S  Boondock “The [email protected]
    Towed by a white 2019 Ford F-150 4x4 Supercab, 3.5L V6 Ecoboost “The Truck”
    [email protected] Administrator
  • Denny16Denny16 Member Posts: 3,292
    Your best rat/mouse invasion protection is to seal up the holes in the underside of the trailer to prevent them from coming in.  The biggest gap in the floor of the TaB400 is where the water lines run from the water tank to the pump, the the water fill line going to the tank.  Both are routed through a large cutout in the floor above the water tank.  This also kicks up dust into the trailer when you go down dirt roads.  

    I found this hole after the dealer had plugged up the smaller floor plumbing drains:

    The red circle outlines the hole in the TaB400 floor, the black area inside is the top of the water tank.  There is about a 1.5 to 2 inch gap between the bottom of the floor and the top of the tank, allowing a rodent an entry point.

    Another large hole is under the galley cabinet under the sink:

    Red circle and arrow show gray water drain going through floor, with a large gap between the pipe and edge of the hole.  Blue arrow shows a leak from the improperly caulked outside AC receptacle that leaked water into the TaB inder the sink cabinet. 

    Some have even used wire mesh to cover the frame cutouts under the trailer.  The water tanks are located between these two frame members.
    2018 TaB400 Custom BoonDock, Jeep Gladiator truck, Northern California Coast.
  • pthomas745pthomas745 Member Posts: 2,095
    Mandy Lea did a video on this in the last few months.

    2017 Outback
    Towed by 2014 Touareg TDi
  • Denny16Denny16 Member Posts: 3,292
    Thanks, I didn’t think to check under the shower pan, where the PTrap is, looks like from Mandy Lee’s photo in the above post, another hole in the floor under the PTrap.

    2018 TaB400 Custom BoonDock, Jeep Gladiator truck, Northern California Coast.
  • mbeckerpashambeckerpasha Member Posts: 14
    All very useful information! Thanks so much!

    -Mary B-P
  • johnfconwayjohnfconway Member Posts: 180
    How much property do you have control over? Chances are your house (like ours in SW New Mexico) was plunked down on prime Pack Rat habitat. There is the possibility of physically destroying nests on a regular basis and pushing back the population so the nearest food source is no longer you.
    Check out the "Mr. Packrat" site: http://www.mrpackrat.net/  They are in the Tucson area. While pack rats are formidable and when disassembling nests are clearly "beaver of the desert", you can keep them at bay with perseverance. We continually scan Prickly Pear, Cholla, Soaptree Yucca and Beargrass for new nesting activity (over just under 12 acres). Use a 5 or 6 tine manure fork and scatter the interwoven yucca stalks and cholla ends. They even haul dog poop quite a way to cover nest and scare off predators not equipped with a fork. It's usually a year or more before another pack rat will start a rebuild on a destroyed site.
    We also use short cycles of snap traps near the chicken coop or anywhere else in the inner yard we see telltale signs -- cholla branch ends. I know this all sounds like a lot of work, but it creates a new steady state that keeps them away from vehicles.

    2020 [email protected] 400 BDL towed with 2019 Nissan Frontier Pro-4X  Silver City, NM
  • WayfaringStrangersWayfaringStrangers Member Posts: 17
    I live in the northeast and have found that putting Fresh Cab packets in all concealed areas (when not in use) keeps out all rodents. I agree with also taking the precautions already noted. 
  • Michigan_MikeMichigan_Mike Administrator Posts: 2,751
    edited January 19
    Good points above for keeping pack rats at bay.  One thing I’ve learned about packrats after wintering in the SW is that you need to look for signs of them as John (above) has done.  We camp in BLM areas periodically and prior to setting up camp and finding a suitable spot I scout the area well and try to avoid areas that have the pack rat middens, which to me resemble debris left over after high water or a flood. They are piled up in brushy areas around and between trees and in areas protected from high sunlight.  Pack rats also like to make homes in wood piles so steer clear of piling wood up as they will readily make homes in these areas.  

    We have camped at Gilbert Ray CC in Tucson and that is a great spot for pack rats.  Organ Pipe has the reputation too, but in past years they have made a concentrated effort to clean up pack rat middens so things are improving.  I have friends who tell me too that although lights are known to spook and dissuade pack rats,  they were sitting outside at night with the underside of a truck lit up with lights and watched an undeterred pack rat jump over the light string, hop up on a tire and crawled up into the well lit compartment of the engine.  

    As far as sealing entry points in these trailers I would suggest using the stainless scrub pad material sold in places like Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, etc.  It looks like coils of stainless material and you can pull it apart and stuff it into crevices and openings .  Mice and rats cannot penetrate it.  If you use steel wool, this material does work but it also rusts.  Using poison isn’t a good idea as although it kills mice and rats, they have a tendency to crawl up into difficult to get to locations, they die and will decompose and smell up their final place of departure.  

    This is what a pack rat midden looks like.

    Howell, Mi
    2019 [email protected] 400
    2021 Chevy Silverado LTZ
  • Sharon_is_SAMSharon_is_SAM Moderator Posts: 7,583
    It it looks like a mini beaver den @Michigan_Mike!  
    Sharon / 2017 [email protected] CSS / 2015 Toyota Sienna Minivan / Westlake, Ohio
  • T@Balong[email protected] Member Posts: 279
    Another campground where pack rats have been a nuisance in the past is the COE campground at Cochiti Dam between Albuquerque and Santa Fe.   A camping neighbor there relayed that they had suffered  over $400 worth of damage to their vehicle's wiring.
    2015 [email protected] 320 S, 2019 Jeep Cherokee
    States Visited Map
  • gulfareagulfarea Member Posts: 334
    Seems like a lot of ways they can get in. I guess getting that big snake out from under the TAB was a bad idea! I much rather have the one snake then lots of mice. Art
    2019 TaB 320 S Boondock Edge
  • mbeckerpashambeckerpasha Member Posts: 14
    Many thanks to All for your helpful posts! I appreciate the education regarding pack rat middens. Advice regarding the use of the stainless scrub pad material for plugging holes is also appreciated. Short of sealing "Boony" in a bubble, these efforts don't seem too daunting to avoid hundreds of dollars of damage due to interlopers. That and keeping our native snakes around should help!

    Happy Camping All!
  • BaylissBayliss Member Posts: 1,016
    I purchased some plastic 1" plugs to cover the three holes in the rear section of my trailer frame.  Much better than using steel wool, which rusts (or even stainless steel scrubbing pad.)  The plugs fit perfectly.

    Karcy 1-inch Door Window Plugs (pack of 10 available from Amazon.com)


    2019 [email protected] 320 S Boondock Lite; Alde Compact 3020 Boiler; Norcold N180.3x Refrigerator; 2007 Toyota Tundra TRD (5.7L V8)
    Greg & Marlene (Tucson, AZ)

  • SlackersSlackers Member Posts: 120
    Looks like a factory installation!
    2019 Tab 320 CSS, 2019 Ranger TV, OH
  • jkjennjkjenn Member Posts: 6,343
    edited March 7
    I'll be honest, I haven't really looked at the Coroplast on the bottom too intently, but where I have it seems like it pretty well seals off the underbelly. Apart from where there are openings, do the vermin have the ability to get in through the coroplast?

    2021 [email protected] 320 Boondock "Mattie Ross" | 2021 [email protected] Nights: 115 | Total nights in a [email protected] 326 | 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk | [email protected] owner since 2014

  • TomCanadaTomCanada Member Posts: 226
    Looks a lot cleaner than mine!  I just slapped on some black mesh with clear silicone - figured nobody looks back there anyways so can afford a little sloppiness - but my OCD likes yours so much better :)
  • BaylissBayliss Member Posts: 1,016
    @TomCanada, I may do something like that to cover the rectangular shaped opening up in the upper left-hand corner of my photo.  I have some steel wool there right now, and purchased some stainless scrub pad to replace it, but the screen is just as good.
    2019 [email protected] 320 S Boondock Lite; Alde Compact 3020 Boiler; Norcold N180.3x Refrigerator; 2007 Toyota Tundra TRD (5.7L V8)
    Greg & Marlene (Tucson, AZ)

  • William_KeeverWilliam_Keever Member Posts: 35
    When someone develops pack rat problems, is it from staying at a campground for an extended period of time, or do these problems develop after just one night (for example, staying at a different campground every night on a road trip)?
  • GatorEggGatorEgg Member Posts: 362
    i just had a $5800 wiring harness repair on my new Tacoma due to a rodent chewing on the engine harness.  Starting about 5 years ago vehicle manufacturers starting using soy oil based wire insulation vice petroleum based.  Seems rodents like it for dinner.  I never really worried about it even though we live in a rustic area.  My vehicles are garaged at night.  But two nights a couple weeks ago my Tacoma was left outside while wife had a painting project going in garage.
    Ive done a lot of deterrent research.  Also consulted with the Toyota dealer.  Number one recommendation is install a ultrasonic rodent deterrent.  Done, with Amazon’s #1 rated.  $28, and two wires to battery.  Also number 2 recommendation, a bag of moth balls under the hood.
    And yes we have a cat which makes its timely rounds about 0100 each morning.
    2018 [email protected] Boondock 320S, 2019 Toyota Tacoma Sport 4x4
    Odessa, Fl.  

  • Sharon_is_SAMSharon_is_SAM Moderator Posts: 7,583
    @William_Keever - The rodents are opportunists, so it can happen at any time.  Here are some more ideas:  https://tinyshinyhome.com/packrats
    Sharon / 2017 [email protected] CSS / 2015 Toyota Sienna Minivan / Westlake, Ohio
  • Dutch061Dutch061 Member Posts: 382
    In the desert of southern California, they leave the hoods up on all the vehicles parked outside. I (being a non-resident) asked what in the world is this all about? The reply was simple, leave the hood closed and they will be under it in a single night but if you open the hood they will not go near it. I guess something about the "sense of security" they get from an enclosed area? 

    Yes, soybean oil is used for extrusion lubricant in virtually all wiring made today. 

    2020 400 BDL
    2021 F-250 Tremor with PSD
    Concord, NC 
  • BaylissBayliss Member Posts: 1,016
    edited March 8
    @jkjenn, a rat can gnaw through a 1/2" opening; a mouse through a 1/4" inch opening.   For perspective, a Google search revealed that an adult mouse can get through an opening the size of a pen, and an adult through an opening the size of a dime.  A bigger issue that many people do not think about is that any critter can literally enter through the front door.  They can easily slip under the door's sliding screen at any time of day (whenever the door is open, that is.)  We had a squirrel enter that way.  Fortunately, the campground host's dog immediately alerted to the presence of the squirrel, so we let him in the trailer and he chased the squirrel out.  Also, if you leave any food out inside the trailer, then a mouse, squirrel, etc. will do their best to find a way in.
    2019 [email protected] 320 S Boondock Lite; Alde Compact 3020 Boiler; Norcold N180.3x Refrigerator; 2007 Toyota Tundra TRD (5.7L V8)
    Greg & Marlene (Tucson, AZ)

  • Sharon_is_SAMSharon_is_SAM Moderator Posts: 7,583
    Sharon / 2017 [email protected] CSS / 2015 Toyota Sienna Minivan / Westlake, Ohio
  • jkjennjkjenn Member Posts: 6,343
    I just spent some time crawling around on the ground looking for possible entry points on my 2021 320 and I am not even convinced it would be one. It's the area around the grey tank pipe where it enters the coroplast sheet.. there are no gaps in the Coloplast where it meets the frame and I didn't see holes drilled in the frame.

    2021 [email protected] 320 Boondock "Mattie Ross" | 2021 [email protected] Nights: 115 | Total nights in a [email protected] 326 | 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk | [email protected] owner since 2014

  • BaylissBayliss Member Posts: 1,016
    A couple weeks ago, I used some stainless steel scrubber pad to blocked the area described by @jkjenn There was enough space for a mouse/packrat to enter.   

    2019 [email protected] 320 S Boondock Lite; Alde Compact 3020 Boiler; Norcold N180.3x Refrigerator; 2007 Toyota Tundra TRD (5.7L V8)
    Greg & Marlene (Tucson, AZ)

  • ontheroadontheroad Member Posts: 476
    I've read about the ultrasonic rat deterrent s..no experience but it did intrique me...especially after @verna and I talked about them in Arizona
    Former 2017 [email protected] Max XL
    2021 [email protected] Boondock CS-S
    2018 Nissan Pathfinder
    Ontario, Canada
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