Rodent trouble

10:23 p.m. on November 26, 2009 (EST)
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Recently my brother and I were backpacking in the desert area near Tucson, AZ. We both had our own single person tents. One night my brother awoke and saw a mouse dart away from a space near his head on the outside of the tent and found a small hole in his tent mesh wall where the mouse had been. The mouse had chewed off a piece of the screen about 2" x 2" and apparently carried it away. The mouse returned to the spot throughout the night but my brother woke up and scared it off. My brother had no food in his tent so we thought the mouse might have found the mesh to be a good nesting material.

I've heard about mice on the AT chewing holes in backpackers bags but was wondering if anyone has had tents bothered by mice.

10:58 p.m. on November 26, 2009 (EST)
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Funny you should ask!

Welcome dogaldo.

Others have heard this story before but anyhow.....

I was backpacking in the mountains with my dog some years ago, I left my dog in camp and leashed to a tree while I went on a quick fishing trip, about 30 minutes or so. I had the dogs leash arranged so he could be in the tent.

When I came back I found my dog had dug a hole through the tent floor and had a good bit of dirt inside. It took a moment to compose myself I can tell you!

I repaired the tent as best I could with duct tape, and spent that night hoping we would not have any gully washers (hard rains), we didn't and I was relieved.

While packing up the tent the next morning I found a dead field mouse under the tent. I had assumed the dog just lost his mind, but I guess there was a reason he dug through the tent.

It was cold out and I guess the mouse was seeking shelter and / or food.

I think that at any given time we are probably surrounded by wildlife we never see or hear, how they must laugh at us.

11:18 p.m. on November 26, 2009 (EST)
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Mice will chew just for the sake of chewing. However, I'd bet there were traces of food, grease, or other good-smelling (tasting) substances on the mesh which caused ol' Mickey to work his magic.

8:40 a.m. on November 27, 2009 (EST)
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I had a mouse chew the reinforced fabric along the zipper to my cheap-o tent last summer while island hoping the southern gulf islands in British Columbia. It was my own fault, after eating the rest of my beef jerky I was to lazy to wash up, and I guess while fidgeting with the zipper I left some juicy crumbs/remnants of the jerky along the fabric. Needless to say when I woke up the next morning I noticed a small hole, maybe an inch in diameter, along the 'teeth' of the zipper.

I wonder if the bugger ate the fabric? Or just chewed on it until what jerky flavor had faded?

Sometimes I notice little teeth marks on my boot laces, but nothing serious. Maybe another case of my greasy fingers touching a common spot thus attracting them.

I think I need to replace the unused soap with some pocket hand sanitizer to resolve this problem.

9:56 a.m. on November 27, 2009 (EST)
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Spraying a little bit of mint oil around the tent perimeter will keep rodents like mice and squirrels away. You can also put a few cotton balls saturated with mint oil on a bird feeder to keep the squirrels off.

11:53 p.m. on November 30, 2009 (EST)
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Thank you trouthunter.
You've given me something to think about. I have always considered taking my dog out with me on a backpacking trip but thought he might get into or cause too much trouble. Either way it will be interesting.
Thanks again.

12:02 a.m. on December 1, 2009 (EST)
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Thank you to everyone who responded. I appreciate the advice and stories. I'll keep my hands clean and will try that mint oil suggestion.
I left a sponge out by accident one night and found it the next morning up in a tree about forty feet away. Those rodents again! Ha!

11:56 p.m. on December 2, 2009 (EST)
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Late jumping in here. I was camping the the Tetons once and had a pike chew a massive hole in the side of my tent. And another time, while climbing in the Tetons, we returned to find my partner's boots had been chewed up by a resident marmot. And while camping in an abandoned miner's cabin in Death Valley, I had a mouse jump on my sleeping bag (in the middle of the night). Darn thing scared me half to death! A hard punch up sent him flying across the room, not to be heard from again. :-)

10:41 a.m. on December 3, 2009 (EST)
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JimDoss: A pike is something I fish for, as in "wall-eye pike." I'm guessing that's not what chewed your tent. What's a "pike" out there where you are?


12:49 p.m. on December 3, 2009 (EST)
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He meant "pika". Pikas look a bit like a mouse, but are more closely related to rabbits. Cute little fellas, but like marmots, mice, and other rodents, they can chew holes in things and steal food (and leave droppings).

Actually, raccoons are more of a problem (they aren't rodents). They are smart enough to know how to work zippers and often work in groups to provide distractions while part of the group sneaks around behind you to get at the food.

5:19 p.m. on December 3, 2009 (EST)
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Raccoons are amazing. I've had them remove the child-proof cap from a bottle of vitamins and unscrew the lid from a jar of peanut butter.

If they had opposable thumbs and loose morals, they could be in Congress.

11:09 p.m. on December 3, 2009 (EST)
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No, it was a pike, sorta like a sand shark, but smaller and only lives in the mountains. :-l

10:12 p.m. on December 6, 2009 (EST)
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Ever see the movie Never Cry Wolf? The biologist eats mice and when he grins and growls they high tail it away. My AZ survival book tells how to trap and eat them. I think if they knew they were prey they might be a tad more cautious. Or when they enter yer tent, grab it and eat it.

I actually caught one of those land pikes in a dead fall once, but I Zappa'd him...

Jim S

May 21, 2018
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