If mice or rats are becoming persistent pests in your home, you’re not alone! Household rodents are extremely common; it’s been estimated that close to 30% of Americans have had a rodent problem in their home at one point or another. Identifying droppings is the best way to determine if there is a rodent infestation in your home, as well as how severe the infestation is.

Mouse and Rat Droppings: What They Look Like & What To Do If You See Them

Mouse droppings are darkly colored, oval-shaped pellets that are about the same size as a grain of rice. Rat droppings are similarly dark in color, but they are larger and shaped like pea-pods.

If you see mouse and rat droppings in your home, it’s vital to remove the droppings and clean the area safely. Rodent droppings are not safe for humans and pets. Droppings can contaminate food, cause allergic reactions, and transmit bacteria and diseases such as Hantavirus and Salmonella.

Knowing how to identify rodent droppings can save you from any health risks the mice and rats have brought into your home. It’s also important to understand how to safely handle and remove mouse and rat droppings in order to prevent the spread of disease during the cleaning process.

What Do Mouse Droppings Look And Smell Like?

You can identify mouse droppings by their small, distinct shape. Fecal pellets from mice are brown or black. They are similar in shape to a grain of rice, with one or both ends coming to a point. Mice typically leave between 50 to 75 pellets per day.

It’s important to determine whether droppings are fresh or old in order to properly assess whether or not there are rodents currently living in your home, as well as how severe the rodent infestation is. Fresh mouse droppings are relatively dark and shiny, whereas older droppings will appear dry and chalky. 

Mouse droppings and urine can also be identified by the distinct smell of ammonia that comes from the mouse urine. The fecal droppings may not be easily identifiable by scent, but you will likely notice the smell of ammonia left behind if there is a mouse infestation in your home.

What Do Rat Droppings Look Like?

While rat droppings are similar to mouse droppings in color, they can be easily distinguished based on their larger size.

Rat droppings are about half an inch long, and rats typically leave fewer droppings than mice. According to the National Pest Management Association, a rat only produces between 20 to 50 droppings per day. 

Rat droppings will appear darker the fresher they are. Fresh rat pellets will be shiny and black, while older droppings will look dried out. Rat droppings also vary between species, and knowing these differences can be useful in determining which type of rat is involved in the infestation.

For example, Norway rats (the most common type of rat in the United States) produce droppings that are brown and rectangular with blunt ends. Roof rats, on the other hand, produce curved, oblong droppings that are pointed at the ends.

Norway rat droppings are typically found in small groupings. Roof rat droppings are more often spread out and scattered around the home or infested area. 

Understanding how to identify rodent droppings is helpful in determining if your home has a rat or mouse infestation, or if there is another animal to blame. Rat droppings can be easily confused with squirrel and raccoon droppings as they are similar in shape; however, raccoon droppings are larger and closer in shape to dog droppings. Squirrel feces, on the other hand, are larger and thicker than rat droppings.

Where To Look For Droppings

Mouse droppings on light wood under a sink

If you suspect a mouse or rat infestation, there are several places that should be checked for rodent droppings.

Attics and crawl spaces are among the most popular places for rodents to make their home. This is because these areas are typically left undisturbed for long periods of time and can be accessed by rodents from the outside via chewed pipes or imperfections in roofing or gutters. For the same reason, it is also important to check utility closets, water heater spaces, air vents, exposed pipes, and holes in exterior walls.

Bathroom and kitchen cabinets, pantries, and food storage spaces should also be checked for rat and mouse droppings. Rodents are always looking for ample food sources, and it is critical to check these locations to ensure that none of your food or bathroom necessities become contaminated by mouse or rat feces.

How To Handle Mouse and Rat Droppings

When rodent droppings are discovered in the home, the only way to get rid of them entirely is to deal with the rodents causing them. Otherwise, droppings will continue to appear.

Rodent droppings must be handled delicately and cleaned in a particular way to ensure the safety of humans and pets living in the home. Rodent droppings should never be swept or vacuumed as it can create dust from the droppings. If rodent-dropping dust is inhaled, it can cause serious illness.

In order to safely remove mouse and rat droppings, follow these steps:

  • Air out the space where the droppings are spotted for 30 minutes before cleaning
  • Wear latex, rubber, or vinyl gloves and a breathing mask or respirator. Never handle rodent droppings with your bare hands
  • Use a disinfectant spray and soak the area for 5 minutes
  • Start cleaning the area using disposable rags or paper towels
  • Put the collected droppings and used cleaning materials in a sealed plastic bag
  • Place the sealed bag in a covered trash can, and take out the trash right away

Dealing with a Rodent Infestation

Side view of a rat on light wood

When you discover an infestation, it should be dealt with as quickly as possible since mice and rats reproduce rapidly. The longer there has been an infestation in your home, the worse it can get.

A good way to deal with a rodent infestation is to eliminate their food source. Although mice can live on crumbs, they typically eat 3 grams of food a day which adds up to about 8 pounds a year. Place all food in air-tight containers and keep open food in the fridge or freezer where rodents can not easily access it. Store pet food securely in heavy plastic containers. Limit any other potential food sources by sealing trash bins tightly both inside and outside the home.

After all food sources have been eliminated, check for possible entryways that rodents use to access the home. Close off any openings in the walls or crawl spaces where rodents have access to materials such as plastic, wood, wires, and insulation. 

Create a less attractive environment for pests by keeping your home, garage, and storage spaces clutter-free. For example, if you use firewood in your home, it is best to keep it stacked away from your home.

Getting rid of a mouse or rat infestation can be very difficult to do on your own and may require the attention of a pest control professional. If rodent droppings are consistently reappearing even after you have done your best to keep pests out, contact Stampede Pest Control for help!