Now we're not talking a visit from Alvin, Theodore and Simon, but rather the possible damage that can occur from critters like the chipmunk and mouse.

These two fury creatures can do their damage at different times of the year, but a little preparation using the tips below will better your chances of them moving on and not making your boat their winter condo.

Critter Capers

For those of you who store your boats early, like right after Labor Day, the chipmunk can find your craft as an excellent location to store his winter food of acorns and other selected goodies. Chipmunks have been know to use small compartments within the boat for storage, and in many cases, the cylinders of your engine, gaining access through the open exhaust cavity of the lower unit.

Many experts recommend blocking the exhaust opening by taping it completely shut with duct tape. While this may be effective, this can trap moisture in the exhaust system, and send the critter into your boat through openings in the covers or shrink wrap. Many of our customers have found that placing a small moth cake hanger in the exhaust opening and engine compartment does the trick.

Also placing a moth cake hanger near any openings to the boat will also prevent entry to the boat. Make sure they are not subject to getting wet. These small hangers are available at the grocery store, and be sure to remove them promptly in the spring.

Mice on the other hand will seek shelter once the weather turns colder, making your boat or motor compartment a great winter retreat. Mice will also do some serious damage due to their feeding habits should food be scarce during the winter. They love plastic wire insulation, rubber hose, and canvas. The moth cake hanger once again will do the trick.

Keep in mind that your boat requires some ventilation during the winter, so sealing everything up tight is not a good idea. Also, a thorough cleaning will help to prevent any morsels of food that may be laying around the boat from becoming a grommet feast. Forgotten fish bait, empty beverage cans, and snack bags should all be removed. As a precaution it is also recommended to remove life jackets, loose canvas covers, rags, or any other items or personal belongings from the boat.

A few of our customers now have reported that using dryer sheets instead of moth cake hangers has been an effective deterrent and eliminates the moth cake odor in the boat. Remember, these critters will inhabit areas you won't see, and the damage from what is normally instinct for them, may not be discovered until next boating season once again begins. Be sure to follow all precautions posted on the moth cake hangers, and be sure to place them so they will not be accessible to children and pets. If you have any questions regarding this article, please forward them to us using the E-mail link below.

Todd notified us that he uses pure peppermint oil. Todd said "the peppermint smell is very strong and interferes with the rodents’ nose and their ability to smell, so they stay clear of the peppermint. You can purchase the peppermint oil at health food stores. I use a couple of cotton balls and I place them in a paper bowl with 8 -12 drops of the oil on them. I use 4 bowls in my 22ft pontoon and 4 in my 24ft fishing boat and as many as 8 in my 38ft camper. I buy 2 bottles of peppermint oil, 4 oz each for about $20.00 per bottle. In the 5 years that I have used the peppermint oil I have not had a problem with rodents and my boats and camper smell nice come spring. The smell dissipates quickly once the cotton balls are removed" Thanks for the info Todd.