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Identifying Rodent Droppings

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Identifying Rodent Droppings

When rats get into a home or business they seldom bring anything good in with them. The same rat you saw climbing around in your dumpster could be the rat you found scurrying across a cutting board or disappearing into the back of a food storage area. This makes them a vector for harmful bacteria. But, most often, you're not going to see them. While rats can grow quite large, they are adept at avoiding detection. So, identifying the signs of an invading rat, or group of rats, is vital. The most significant sign rats leave are their droppings.

If you're Crocodile Dundee or Bear Grylls, identifying rodent droppings is a piece of cake. In fact, both of these guys could probably track a rodent for miles through the Outback. We're not looking to teach you how to do that, but studying the droppings of animals you want to know more about is an essential skill for dealing with those animals. That is why, in pest control, it is important to become familiar with droppings.


Rat droppings are usually black; and the blacker the dropping is, the fresher it is. This can give you an indication of whether or not you have an old infestation or a current one. Old rat droppings will become gray and dry out.


Rat droppings can vary in size, depending on what species of rat left the dropping and how old the rat was. If you find several dropping in a single place, which is likely, you will be better able to rule out the droppings that were left by immature rats, and get to the business of determining if you have rats at all.

If the droppings you are finding are smaller than a piece of rice, they had to have been left by a smaller creature. If you're finding droppings that are consistently smaller than a piece of rice, they are more likely to be mouse or cockroach droppings. While mouse and rat droppings have a similar shape and color, they do not share a similar size.


When it comes to leaving feces around, rats have nothing on mice. A typical mouse can leave 70 to 150 dropping in a single day. Rats leave more like 35 to 50. But, whether you have 35 or you have 150, a significant number of pellet-like feces are a clear indication that you have rodents inside your home or business.

Quantity is an important clue. A seasoned professional can even guess at the number of individual mice or rats inside the structure just by looking at the quantity and grouping of droppings. But we won't get into that kind of detail.


Most rat dropping will have a sausage shape to them; but some are pill-shaped. There may also be a noticeable pinch to either end, where the dropping will look somewhat pointed.


As mentioned above, fresh droppings will be moist. They will also have a shine to them if they are fresh. Use a pencil to squish a dropping if you're curious how fresh it is. If it crumbles, the dropping is old.

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Droppings Left By Other Pests

Squirrel droppings tend to be smaller than rat droppings at about ⅜ of an inch, compared to the ¾ of an inch of the average rat dropping. The droppings left by squirrels are also more cylindrical in shape and browner in color.

Bat droppings, also called guano, are slightly smaller than rat droppings and are similar to a long, black grain of rice. These droppings will be found in large quantities under where a bat sleeps or sits.

Cockroach droppings are typically 2/8 of an inch and black. This causes them to sometimes be mistaken for mouse droppings. But, cockroaches can get into a lot of places even mice can't get into, so these pellets can be found in a wider variety of locations.

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