You know or suspect that there are rodents in the house, but how can you tell if you are dealing with mice or rats? Even though they share common signs, use their unique indicators to find out what type of rodents are present. This is also important so that you know the right bait or trap to use to get rid of them. Rats are larger than mice and have thick red, brown, gray, or black fur (depending on variety) and a long, scaly, hairless tail. A mature rat can be between 11 and 19 inches long (including its tail) and weigh ½ to 1 pound.
Mice have big ears and tiny black eyes. They have fine fur that can be black, gray, or brown and a hairless tail that is 3 to 4 inches long. Mature mice grow to approximately 6-7 inches in length (including their tail) and weigh ½ to 1 oz. Rodent droppings are a sure sign that rats or mice are present, and will indicate the type of rodent, the size of the infestation, and where they are most active.
One of the first signs that many homeowners notice could indicate a rodent infestation is a pungent, musky smell throughout the home. When rodents invade a house, they make a considerable mess, leaving droppings and urine all over the nest site and sometimes outside of it. To make matters worse, when a mouse or rat is about to die, they often retreat to distant corners to die alone, leaving the smell of their corpse. And, of course, you have to take into account the natural body odor of rodents.
You can usually find droppings behind kitchen cabinets, pantries, cupboards, drawers, bins, and places where food can be accessed. Rodents easily produce their droppings anywhere they stay, so it's easy to tell if you have an infestation. Like handled food containers, rodent droppings are both a warning sign and an active safety hazard, as rodent fecal matter can spread diseases such as hantavirus, salmonella, rat-bite fever, and even bubonic plague. Identifying the right culprit rodent and understanding its behavior can help you select the right rodent control solution and help prevent future infestations.
We strongly recommend calling a licensed pest control professional to find and eliminate dead rodents or other pests, as they can be very dangerous. While this is a good indication of where a rodent has traveled, it may not be the best indicator of how recently a rodent has been in your home.
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