Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My wife thinks I should be an exterminator. We have a fifth-wheel and she is always hearing noises. She says she hears mice scurrying around, gnawing and thumping, and our cat is always on point. I never hear anything. Then she started seeing other people in the campground putting lights under and around their rigs at night. The guy next door puts the hood up on his pickup every night with a light in the engine compartment. I think he is just proud of his truck, but my wife said he does it to keep pack rats out. Do I have to light up the world every night to keep vermin from moving in with us? If rodents are so fearful of lights why would they want to come in anyway? --Mickey Mouse ideas in Mesa
Some say that the rat light idea is all based on urban legend. From personal experience I can say I did have a pack rat nest in my motorhome engine compartment before lights and, so far, none after. Like you, I noticed the lights around rigs in Lost Dutchman State Park in Arizona and thought it might be people wanting to show off their vehicles at night.
You don't have to go overboard and light up the whole campground. I just put a short string of LED lights under my engine and wired them to my battery with a switch. Many people use rope lights and just lay them on the ground. I park my toad facing the front of the motorhome to share the illumination and hope for the best.
If your wife thinks she hears evidence of a silent invasion you would be wise to start a trapline and see if you snag anything. Better safe than sorry.
Those little furballs can do a lot of damage in a short span of time. Stay on top of it. --Keep Smilin', Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink