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Rat Droppings vs Mouse Droppings

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Discovering mice or rat droppings in your home is, unfortunately, a common household problem that needs immediate attention. They gravitate to homes where they can find an easy, reliable source of food and water and a warm, safe place to nest, especially in climates where temperatures get cold in winter.

Mice and rats are agile and resourceful creatures who take advantage of vulnerabilities in and around your home to gain access. Identifying the type of rodents in your home is key to eradicating them before they have an opportunity to damage your home.

Differences Between Rats and Mice

Rats and mice are both in the rodent family, along with other familiar animals such as squirrels and beavers. Mice and rats may share many traits, but they also differ in appearance, habitats, and behaviors:

  • Mice are generally smaller than rats.
  • Mice are usually more curious, while rats are more cautious.
  • Rats prefer foods with higher levels of protein, while mice like grains and seeds. Both are omnivores and opportunistic: when hungry, they will eat what is present.
  • Both mice and rats can have five to ten litters per year, but rats usually have slightly larger litters.
  • Mice have hairy tails, whereas rats have hairless tails that look scaly.

Both mice and rats are incredibly adaptable to many types of environments. However, they do have habitat preferences and are found mostly in temperate and tropical climates. Both mice and rats are prevalent throughout the United States and are common in urban, suburban, and rural areas. Mice are more delicate than rats and prefer indoor habitats. Rats are found both indoors and outdoors. Within a home, mice will live in an attic, basement, and within walls. The two most common types of rat are the roof rat and Norway rat. The roof rat prefers to build their nest in elevated areas such as an attic, while Norway rats prefer basements.

Characteristics of Rats

Rats are social rodents and usually live in colonies or family groups that can consist of more than 150 male and female rats with overlapping generations. Within their colony or family, there are hierarchies with dominant rats controlling territory and resources. Physically, they have bulky bodies with large ears, blunt snouts, and long, scaly tails. Norway rats are brown, while Roof rats are blackish.

Characteristics of Mice

Mice are also social and live in colonies that are smaller than rats. There is usually a colony of one male with several females. But they do not live in family groups. The male of the group is dominant. Physically, mice have more slender bodies than rats, pointed snouts, large ears, and long tails with short, sparse hairs.

Rat vs Mice Droppings

Distinguishing between mice or rat droppings is sometimes hard, but there are differences between the two. Both are dark brown or black capsule-shaped forms that can vary in tone depending upon the diet of the rat or mouse as well as the age of the dropping. Older droppings fade in color.

Rat droppings are larger than mice droppings. They can be up to 1 inch in length compared to one-quarter to one-half inch long for mice. Both taper at the edges. Mouse droppings are usually more numerous than rat droppings and are scattered throughout an area in which they’ve spent time.

The most important factors to look for in identifying whether you are seeing rat or mouse poop is their size and shape. Rat poop is sizeably larger and more cylindrical. Mouse poop is quite thin and small.

Where to Find Mouse or Rat Droppings

If you suspect you have mice or rat droppings, there are a few sure places where you should check for droppings:

  1. Where they nest
  2. Near food or water
  3. Along walls and baseboards

In your kitchen, where food is stored and prepared:

  • Pantry
  • Silverware and cooking utensil drawers
  • Cabinets
  • Pet food bowls
  • Countertops

In rooms where water can leak or drip from appliances:

  • Laundry room
  • Mudroom
  • Bathrooms
  • Water heater

In areas where mice and rats might nest:

  • In the corners of attics, on rafters, and where vents are located
  • In your basement’s seldomly used areas, baseboards, and around storage areas
  • Outdoor areas such as a crawlspace or shed

How to Safely Remove Rat or Mouse Poop

Caution is important when cleaning up mouse or rat feces as both mice and rats carry parasites and diseases that are transmittable from these rodents to people.

Here’s how the Centers for Disease Control recommend safely cleaning up rat or mouse poop:

  1. Put on rubber gloves
  2. Spray the mice or rat droppings with bleach or another disinfectant and let it soak in until very wet.
  3. Use disposable paper towels to wipe up the droppings and cleaning solution.
  4. Throw the paper towels in a covered and frequently emptied garbage.
  5. Clean the area thoroughly again using a disinfectant.
  6. Wash your gloved hands with hot, soapy water or a disinfectant before taking them off.
  7. Rewash your hands after removing the gloves.

Dangers of Having Rodents in the Home

Second only to the destruction that termites wreak on a home is the damage and health risks posed by rats and mice. They continuously gnaw on wood and wires, tear insulation to build their nests, and contaminate food. The physical damage they do can be costly.

Exposure to their urine, feces, and nests can spread disease and parasites. Just a few of the diseases they carry include Hantavirus, Leptospirosis, Monkeypox, and Lassa Fever.

Let Trutech In to Get Rodents Out

Rats and mice are extremely difficult to eradicate on one’s own because of the speed in which they reproduce and their skill at hiding in areas we cannot see or easily access. Rats are also cautious and may not approach a trap as quickly as a mouse will. Without a complete eradication, the infestation will start to grow once again.

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