4 Paws on the RoadBy Jen Swope Gehr

Hi Jen!

[To save money], I have purchased my dog food in bulk and store in large bins in my baggage door compartment in the underneath body of the fifth wheel. I am now having rodent issues. I see small and large sized rodent droppings in my RV. Ugggh. For sure, the buggers are getting in somewhere and have chewed through my plastic containers and some of the insulation. I am switching to metal bins but wondering if you have any tips on helping clear the pests. I was surprised that they broke into my RV when there are so many other food sources around for them. Thanks for your help & I look forward to your advice in each issue.

Happy Trails and Puppy Dog Tails,
Janna 


JENN: Hi Janna, and thank you for your inquiry. Did you know the average adult rat consumes about 10% of its body weight in food per day? These are smart little mammals and I’m sure that one caught the scent of your tasty dog food and came back for more with their friends! Rodents of all types can contaminate more food than they can consume with their droppings, hair, and urine. To deter mice and rats, the best thing to do is to store all food products in metal bins, and you’re already on a good track with this step! Make sure that the bins are very clean and secured with tightly fitted lids. Everyday, sweep up any spilled food that might be a temptation on the outside floor. Be sure that you have removed any possible nesting material in the baggage door compartment area that might welcome the rodents to stay a while. Also, eliminate all free feeding stations you might have set up in the RV. Look around with a flashlight and block off any small accesses found on the inside to the outside of your RV will help deter rodents. Used traps and closed bait stations to get rid of any remaining mice or rats that may still be taking up house space in your RV unbeknownst to you. Place snap traps along the walls with the bated end of the trap facing the wall. The tunnel-style traps work best when placed lengthwise along the walls making it an inviting dark space for mice to enter. I prefer using cheese, peanut butter, or marshmallows as bait. Make sure to use gloves when disposing of the used traps. Be sure these traps are placed in locations where your pets cannot get to them. Pack any small openings that you can find in your baggage door compartment or around the floor space behind the kitchen galley with stiff metal screen or steel wool. You can use caulking to help hold the metal in place. I do not recommend using rodenticide sides when trying to kill mice and rats because it’s not worth harming the food chain when they can be trapped, killed, and disposed of by much safer measures. Try and store any stacks of firewood away from your RV as these types of natural housing materials are attractive to rodents.

 

My family recently moved to Texas and I’d like to use the Thousand Trails system this fall to go and visit for a bit. I am just learning about Chagas disease and wanted to know if you have any experience with it. I don’t want to be a “Debbie Downer” and not travel because of risks but this is something that definitely needs to be brought to the public’s attention. 

Thanks for sharing,
Debbie


JENN: I most certainly appreciate you writing in regarding Chagas’ disease- a protozoan parasite, Typanosomacruzi, that is spread to dogs through insects most commonly known as conenose or kissing bugs. These critters are blood sucking insects that are often found in places where a blood source is available. Think rat nest kennels, wood piles, and sometimes in the human habitats. Currently there is no veterinary treatment or vaccine for Chagas disease and pets can only be protected with insect control. Keep your backyard free of brushy areas, piles of wood, and anything else that might be a breeding ground for insects. Reducing the amount of light around your home at night will help keep bug at bay because bugs are naturally attracted to illuminated areas. Dr. Sarah Hamer, Associate professor at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine in Biomedical Sciences, studies the symptoms that can appear within weeks of infection of Chagas disease as well as chronic infections and symptoms related to the disease; everything from lethargy, diarrhea, and seizures, to heart failure and death. For the past few years, Dr. Hamer and her team have been working hard at learning more about the disease and how to better protect our pets and their owners from becoming infected. Go to Texas this fall and be aware, enjoy your family and know this family of RVer’s here at Thousand Trails truly appreciates you writing in to help inform us!

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