Identifying Mice & Rats
FAQ: Rats & Mice
Learn everything from setting traps to bait ingredients.
If you’ve never dealt with a rodent problem before, then it can be quite worrisome and probably a little confusing. Don’t worry, you’re in the right place. We’ve taken all of the most common questions we get and answered them right here.
Click any of the links below to quickly find the answers you are looking for:
Q: Can mice fit into the Tomcat® Mouse Killer bait stations?
A: Yes, mice can fit into holes as small as a dime.
Q: Where should I place a bait station or a trap?
A: Look for signs of rodent activity—such as feces, urine stains, chew marks, or hair—or listen for scratching or squeaking sounds, particularly at night. Place rodent control products in the locations of highest activity. These locations may include behind stoves or refrigerators and inside cabinets. If you place a trap and do not see activity, move it to a different location.
It’s important to keep rodent-control products away from kids and pets. For added precaution, use Tomcat® Rat & Mouse Killer Child & Dog Resistant, Refillable Station or the Tomcat® Rat & Mouse Killer Child & Dog Resistant, Disposable Station, which are designed to be resistant to tampering by children and dogs. Tomcat® Kill & Contain® Mouse Trap encloses all of the working parts of a trap, making it less accessible to kids and non-target animals. Tomcat® Repellents Rodent Repellent Granules (and all other Tomcat® repellents) use an essential oil scent that’s safe for use around kids and pets, while repelling mice and rats.
Q: How much rodent bait do I need?
A: Each package is carefully labeled in accordance with strict guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Consult the package for specific usage information. Each 1-oz. bait block in our Tomcat® Mouse Killer products will kill up to 12 mice*. Keep in mind that mice and rats reproduce quickly, so a problem left untreated can turn into a major problem. For larger issues, place bait stations in multiple locations to ensure you stop the problem before it grows.
*based on no-choice laboratory testing
Q: What's the best way to use rodent bait?
A: Bait blocks should always be secured in a bait station. Tomcat® sells both pre-loaded, disposable bait stations and refillable bait stations packaged with additional bait blocks. You should begin baiting as soon as you detect a problem. Put bait stations in areas where you notice or suspect rodent activity, to make them easier for rodents to find. Mice tend to travel only 10 to 30 feet from their nest, while a rat's home range is 100 to 150 feet. Be sure to keep the bait fresh and dry, and dispose of any old or contaminated bait. Each mouse only needs to consume a small portion of the bait block to become ill and die, so while you may not see a great deal of evidence that it is being consumed, it is working. As with any rodent control product, always follow the DIRECTIONS FOR USE on the package. The safest way to use any rodent control product is to place it in areas inaccessible to children and dogs.
Q: Are rodent baits regulated in any way?
A: Yes. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) closely controls the registration and sale of these products. All products registered must meet specific guidelines for effectiveness, fitness for use, and safety. Even the wording on the exterior of every package is closely controlled. State agencies work in concert with the EPA to monitor products for compliance.
Q: What active ingredients are used in Tomcat® bait products?
Q: Are there baits (poisons) available that will make rodents go outside looking for water?
A: Eating bait will not change a rodent's "normal" water requirements. It is a myth that rodents will seek water outdoors after eating bait and then die outdoors. There is adequate water in your home to meet all rodent needs. If water weren't available, rodents wouldn't live there.
Q: Are there poisons (baits) available where rodents won't smell when they die?
A: NO. Regardless of the bait used, a natural decomposition process always takes place with a distinctive odor.
Q: How do I set a Tomcat® Wooden Mouse Trap?
A: Set the trap by pulling the U-shaped bar to the opposite end of the trap and insert the curved end of the pin into the raised end slot of the trigger. The yellow trigger has an "S" and "F"; place the pin closest to the side of the trigger with the "S" for sensitive trigger reaction.
Q: Should I bait my Tomcat® Mechanical Traps?
A: Many of the Tomcat® mechanical traps feature a bait cup that lets you bait the trap with an attractant. Similarly, an attractant can be used on the triggers of those that do not have a bait cup like Tomcat® Wooden Rat and Mouse Traps. Attractants, such as Tomcat® Mouse Attractant Gel, improve rodent captures. Because rats are neophobic (afraid of new things), they may initially be reluctant to run through the trap. Baiting with an attractant may help entice them into the trap.
Q: Should I put bait on my Tomcat® Glue Trap to improve chances of capturing a rat?
A: No. Tomcat® glue traps already include a scent that acts as a natural attractant. Adding other products may actually inhibit a trap's effectiveness.
Q: How do I get the release paper off my Tomcat® Glue Board?
A: Grip the release paper in one corner and "zip" it off in one smooth, continuous motion (like removing an adhesive bandage.) The paper will come right off.
Q: How do I remove Tomcat® glue from unwanted surfaces?
A: To remove the glue tray from a surface, slowly and carefully pull the tray away from the surface it is adhered to. Most of the glue should stay in the trap.
To remove any residual glue, follow these tips based on the surface type:
- Remove glue residue from dogs, people, and most other surfaces: Dab a bit of vegetable oil or smooth peanut butter on the glue and let it sit for several minutes. Next, with a dry cloth, rub the area to remove the glue. Repeat as needed, then wash with water and a mild detergent or soap.
- Remove glue residue from carpet and upholstery: Follow the procedure above, but it may be necessary to contact a professional carpet or upholstery cleaner.
- Remove glue residue from clothing: Follow the procedure above or you can place the article of clothing in the freezer. When the glue is frozen, peel it off the clothing.
- Remove glue residue from floors and other non-porous surfaces: The quickest and most effective method for removing glue residue is with mineral spirits, such as turpentine or paint thinner, or with a limonene product, such as Goo-B-Gone. Dab it on the glue and let sit for several minutes. Use a dry cloth to rub over the glue area. Repeat as needed and then wash with soap and water.
Note: With any surface, select a cleaning method that will not discolor or damage the surface. If in doubt, test on a non-exposed area, or consult a professional cleaning service. For additional information on using glue traps, see How to Use Glue Traps.
Q: How can I keep rodent baits away from my dogs?
A: Tomcat® has bait stations that are Child & Dog Resistant. They have been proven resistant to tampering by children and dogs. However, as with all poisons, care should be taken to keep them away from children, pets, and wildlife. All bait refills should be stored in areas that dogs and kids cannot access.
Q: If my dog eats the rodent bait, could it die?
A: The risk to your pet depends on what type of pet it is, how big it is, what type of bait it has consumed, as well as how much bait was consumed. If a situation occurs, immediately call the poison control number located on the package (1-877-854-2494) and a specially trained individual will assist in your next steps.
Q: If my dog eats a dead poisoned rodent, will it die?
A: The potential of any secondary poisoning depends on most of the same factors indicated above. Call the poison control number on your product package (1-877-854-2494) if you are concerned about a possible exposure. Occurrences of this type of poisoning are extremely rare.
Q: Is mouse poison safe for dogs?
A: No. Tomcat bait blocks should be kept out of reach from dogs (and children). Always use a dog-resistant bait station for the highest level of security, such as the Tomcat® Rat & Mouse Killer Child & Dog Resistant, Refillable Station.
Q: Who should I call in case of an emergency?
A: If an emergency situation occurs, immediately call the poison control number located on the package (1-877-854-2494) and a specially trained individual will assist in your next steps. This telephone number is also listed on the packaging of Tomcat® baits.
Q: My dog ate Tomcat rat poison, what should I do?
A: If an emergency situation occurs, immediately call your vet or the poison control number located on the package (1-877-854-2494) and a specially trained individual will assist in your next steps.
Rats & Mice
Q:What’s the difference between a mouse and rat?
A: There are actually three types of common rodent pests: The house mouse, Norway rats, and roof rats. Beyond size (mice are smaller), there are some notable differences that will help you identify which is which.
The house mouse can be found across the US, and is black or dusty gray in color. An adult is about 6–7 inches long from head to tail, weighs less than an ounce (0.75 oz to be exact), and has a small head and body.
The Norway rat lives in all parts of the US and is brown or brownish red in color. An adult is around 12–18 inches long from head to tail, weighs about 15 oz, and has a stocky body with a blunt head and short ears.
The roof rat is typically found along the West Coast of the US, as well as coastal areas of the Southeast, and is dark gray or black in color. An adult is approximately 13–17 inches long from head to tail, weighs around 8 oz, and has a lanky, thin body with a pointed nose, long tail and large ears.
Read our article on the differences between mice and rats to learn more about them, including their food preferences, where they often nest, and what their droppings look like.
Q: How can you tell how many rats are in your house?
A: The amount of rat droppings you see are a good indication of how many rats are present, as well as where they are most active. They also leave oily marks on walls and baseboards as they run along them, so if you’ve started the removal process but continue to see fresh marks, there are additional rats and you need to continue using your preferred method of control. For more information, read our article on identifying a mouse or rat problem in your house.
Q: How much do rats and mice eat per day?
A: Rats eat approximately 1 oz. of food, and mice eat 1/10 oz.
Q: How far do rats and mice venture from their nest?
A: Norway rats generally travel up to 100 feet from their nest to their food source. Roof rats have a wider range, up to 300 feet. The house mouse stays close to its nest, usually traveling only 30 feet or so to its food source.
Q: How small of an opening can rats and mice fit through?
A: Rats can squeeze through a hole about the size of a quarter while mice can fit through a hole smaller than a dime.
Q: Where do rats hide?
A: Rats typically like to take up residence in dark areas, such as behind or under appliances, and in cupboards, closets, and garbage cans. They also like places that are warm, like attics. They might nest in the corners of your garage or stacks of firewood. You won’t see them, but rats can hide inside walls. And, as excellent climbers, they can be found around the perimeter of your home, including sewers, burrows, and trees—which they’ll use to climb onto your roof. Where they choose to hang out can be based on their type, which are most commonly the Norway or roof rats; read our rodent identification guide to know which type of rats might be in your home.
Q: How long do mice live?
A: Mice that are inside your home with steady access to food and water can live as long as 2-3 years, around 1 if it’s in the wild.
Q: What does rat poop look like?
A: There are two main species of rats, and their droppings are both black but shaped slightly differently: Roof rat droppings are black with pointed ends, measuring around ½” long, while Norway rat droppings have blunted ends and can be ¾” long. Read our guide to identifying a mouse or rat problem in your house for more information, including how to differentiate between rat and mouse poop, their activity patterns, what's attracting them to your home, and which rodent-control product you can use to get rid of them.
Q: Where can I purchase Tomcat® rodent control products?
A: Tomcat® rodent control products are available at a wide variety of retail stores across the United States. More retailers are being added everyday. Products can also be purchased directly from the product pages on the Tomcat® website. You can also click on Contact Us for options for further help.
Q: Where can I get additional information not included here?
A: For answers to questions not covered here, please visit the Help Center (see below) and choose your preferred method to ask your question. A qualified representative will assist you.