Signs of a rodent infestation are pretty easy to spot – droppings in the house, chew marks, gnawed wood, and scratching and squealing sounds at night are all pretty good indicators of a rodent problem. Before deciding on a course of treatment, however, the first step is determining which type of rodent you have. So how do you know if you have a rat or a mouse?
Mice are small rodents, usually about 2 to 4″ in length, with thin, long, slightly hairy tails. They have triangular shaped noses with long whiskers and large floppy ears. Mice can be brown, gray, or white in color. Mice droppings are small and smooth with pointed ends, usually about 1/8 to 1/4″ in length. They leave anywhere from 40 to 100 droppings per day. Mice prefer cereal grains or plants but will eat almost anything. They are nocturnal and tend to be bolder than rats. They are curious and will explore new things, making them easier to trap. They are skillful climbers and their small size allows them to access more areas of your home.
Norway rats are larger rodents, usually weighing about 11 ounces and measuring 7 to 9 inches in length. They have heavy, thick bodies that are brown in color with black shading and shaggy coats. Norway rats have blunt, rounded noses and short ears. Their tails are thick, hairless, and scaly and are dark colored on top and pale underneath. Norway rat droppings are brown and blunt on both ends and they leave anywhere from 20 to 50 droppings per day. They prefer fresh grains and meat but will eat just about anything. These rats typically live in burrows and prefer lower levels of homes and buildings. Norway rats are nocturnal and are more fearful and cautious than mice, making them more difficult to trap. They can climb but prefer to stay closer to the ground.
Roof rats are smaller than Norway rats, weighing about 7 ounces. They have light, slender bodies that are gray in color with smooth coats. They have thick, hairless, scaly tails that are dark in color. Roof rats have pointed snouts with large ears. Roof rat droppings are dark with both ends pointed. They will also eat just about anything but prefer fresh grains and meat. They are nocturnal and timid in nature. Because of this, they can be difficult to trap. They are excellent climbers and are more often found nesting in walls, attics, and trees.
Regardless of whether you have mice, Norway rats, or roof rats, all of these rodent species can cause damage to your home and property by chewing through wires, pipes, insulation, and drywall. They can also cause damage to furniture and carpets. All rodents can contaminate food and countertops. Serious diseases caused by rat droppings and mouse droppings include Hantavirus, salmonellosis, and more. They all reproduce quickly and a minor problem can become a major infestation in no time.
Keeping these pests out of your home is critical to helping protect the safety of both your family and your property. Here are some rodent control tips you can implement in and around your home:
- Put A Lid On Your Trash: If possible, use trashcans made of metal with snug fitting lids. If you must use plastic, make sure there are no holes in it.
- Don’t Leave Pet Food Out: Store pet food and birdseed in glass or metal containers with tight lids. Make sure to remove them at night and store them away until morning. Make sure to pick up any fallen fruit or nuts off the ground outside your home, as well. Remove standing water from bird feeders.
- Elevate Your Compost: Raise your compost container at least 1 foot off the ground.
- Keep Your Garage Clean: Rodents like to eat lawn seed, tulip bulbs, bone meal, and other items frequently used in gardening. Make sure they are stored in glass or metal containers with tight lids. Keep firewood a good distance from the house. Organize and store boxes in the garage off the ground to eliminate nesting places.
- Clean The Kitchen: Keep food stored in tightly sealed containers. Clean up spilled food and crumbs nightly.
- Keep Your Home Maintained: Make sure openings around your home are properly sealed. Keep your gutters clear of debris and water. Screen your attic vents. Keep screens on windows and doors in good repair and replace when needed.
- Call A Pro: If you suspect you have a rodent problem, call a professional pest control company or a professional wildlife removal company who can evaluate your home and provide you with a comprehensive treatment and exclusion plan.