Identifying Mice & Rats
Telltale signs of a Rodent Infestation - Do you have rats or mice?
If you answer "yes" to most of these questions, you may have a rat or mice problem on your hands.
What to Look for:
You don't always see them, but they often leave unique signs. Before you set bait stations or a rodent trap, here's a list of questions to ask yourself to determine whether or not you will need pest control in the near future:
Is your dog upset?
Dogs can become disturbed when they hear and smell rodents in the house. You may notice that your dogs pay extra attention to the fence line of your yard, especially at night when mice are more active. A bit of warning: don't rely on your dogs to rid the house of mice or rats. Dogs have very different immune systems than cats and may not be able to handle some of the diseases that rats and mice often carry.
Are rodent droppings present?
Stumbling upon a pile of rodent feces is less than pleasant, however, they can be helpful when trying to determine which type of rodent you may have and therefore, what the next steps are in finding a pest control solution. If you notice multiple, distinct piles or tracts of what looks like dirt in your house, especially along walls, take a closer look to determine if it might in fact be rodent feces.
Mice droppings are small and smooth with pointed ends, usually about 1/8 - 1/4 of an inch long.
Norway Rat Feces
Norway rat droppings are typically brown and are blunt on both ends.
Roof Rat Feces
Roof Rat droppings are dark and both ends are pointed.
Do you see small tracks and tail trails in dusty areas?
Tiny footprints or lines from tails dragging will appear in dusty areas. Check along baseboards, in corners and near sources of food. You may even be able to determine a rodent's entrance and exit points by following these marks.
Do you see areas where wood has been gnawed?
Since their teeth never stop growing, both mice and rats are avid chewers. Typical rat teeth marks are 1/8-inch long. Smaller and "scratchier" marks usually indicate mice. Check along baseboards, door frames, doors, inside cabinets and anything that serves as a wooden barrier. If you're hearing noise inside your walls, check the back panels of cabinets to try to find the rodents access point.
Do you see smears along baseboards and other areas?
Rats and mice tend to stick near walls and borders when moving. If you are noticing smears along baseboards or the bottoms of your walls, you may have some very unwanted visitors. Of course, marks can appear from other sources as well, so if you're noticing marks, try keeping the areas clean and see if the marks reappear.
Is there a heavy musky odor in the house?
Like all animals, rodents leave behind a distinct smell. If your house is suddenly smelling musky and no amount of open windows or fans seems to get rid of that terrible odor, then it's time to consider pest control. Rats and mice can quickly build nests and reproduce which will only add to the smell.
Are you hearing strange noises like scratching and squeaking?
Due to their nocturnal nature, you're much more likely to hear (and even see!) mice and rats at night. If you have a rodent infestation in your house, you will more than likely hear them moving and scratching in your walls and squeaking as they go. You may even spot them scurrying across the floor or along the wall if you're up late.
If you answered "yes" to the majority of these questions, you very likely have a mouse or rat problem on your hands. It's now time to explore some pest control solutions for this problem.
First of all, don't feel overwhelmed. You can work to clear your house of rodents and take steps to keep them out. Start by putting away all food, including dog food, in secure containers and thoroughly cleaning floors and counter surfaces. Then pick the right rodent control product or combination of products to eliminate your mouse or rat problem.
Baits are a highly effective way to control mice and rats. Each 1-ounce bait block in a Tomcat® Mouse Killer Disposable Station kills up to 12 mice*, and each 4-ounce bait block in a Tomcat® Rat & Mouse Killer Child & Dog Resistant, Disposable Station kills up to 10 rats*. Since rodents feel secure in the station, they're enticed to eat the bait. However, a bait station is not a trap. The rodent enters the station, nibbles on the bait, leaves, and normally goes back to its nest where it dies. Tomcat offers bait stations for both indoor and outdoor use, as well as stations that have been designed to be kid and pet tamper resistant. For small rodent problems, use a pre-loaded, disposable station, but for larger rodent issues, select a refillable bait station for rats or mice instead.
Mechanical traps provide a quick and effective way to kill mice and rats. Tomcat offers several trap options to meet your need and preferences. If your intruders are rat, you'll need a heavy-duty snap trap, like the Tomcat® Secure-Kill® Rat Trap. For mice, use the Tomcat® Kill & Contain® Mouse Trap if you want an easy way to dispose of the dead mouse without even having to see it. It's also specially designed to prevent paws and fingers from being snapped. For a more traditional mouse snap trap, use the Tomcat® Press 'N Set® Mouse Trap with its one touch set. For a catch-and-release option, try the Tomcat® Multi-Catch Mouse Trap.
Bait stations and traps should be placed in areas where you've seen signs of rodent activity. Traps and bait stations can be used as standalone products or together as part of a total rodent control system.
For more information about selecting the right rodent control solution for you, visit our solution finder, Tomcat Prowler.
*Based on no-choice laboratory testing