Rats rarely travel more than 200 feet from their nests so if you are looking at some rat poop then there is probably a rat or two hanging out nearby. Let’s look at a few pictures and talk about whether the rodent droppings you are looking at are from a mouse, rat, or squirrel. It is important to know which animal the droppings came from so you can treat the rodent infestation and pest control properly.
Which is Which: Rat or Mouse Poop?
The following picture illustrates the difference between rodent droppings from a rat and mouse using a penny as a reference point.
Droppings from the Norway rat (closest to the penny) are the largest of the three and have blunt ends. Droppings from the Roof rat (middle) are a little smaller than the poop from a Norway rat and have tapered ends. Mouse droppings (far right) are much, much smaller than rat droppings.
Is It Rat or Squirrel Poop?
Rat droppings and Squirrel droppings are extremely similar in size and shape. The best way to tell the excrement from these animals apart (see Squirrels vs Rats) is to look at how it is distributed.
Rats use their poop and urine to mark their territory and indicate breeding status. As a result, rats will poop and pee just about everywhere they travel.
By contrast, squirrels just poop when they need to poop and will often use the same location multiple times.
If you see a large, random scattering of poop along a urine streamed trail then you are looking at rat droppings. If you see a pile of poop then it was a present from your friendly neighborhood squirrel in your attic. Hence, pest control is needed.
Are the Rodent Droppings Fresh or Old?
You might be wondering, why do mice poop so much? Rats eat a LOT. They need the calories but also must constantly gnaw on materials to keep their teeth trimmed.
Since rats eat so much they also poop a lot (around 40-50 pellets of poop per day).
When you find rat droppings, they might be leftover from an old infestation that has since been eradicated. Fresh rat poop is dark and shiny. Old droppings are grey and dusty.
If the rat turds or droppings you find are dark and shiny then your rat infestation is currently still a problem.
How to Properly Clean Mouse and Rat Droppings
Please do not approach cleaning up rat droppings like any other cleaning project. These droppings can harbor many dangerous diseases and how to get rid of mouse urine smell and droppings might be a little tedious as you have imagined. If the droppings are old, grey, and crumbly it is easy to create dust from the poop that can enter your body through your respiratory system.
The minimum protective equipment you need when cleaning is a face mask respirator and rubber gloves. Some people suggest using a HEPA filtered respirator should be used instead of a simple surgical face mask.
Never Pick Up the Droppings With Your Bare Hands
To minimize the possibility of dust formation and to kill any dangerous viruses, it is advised to treat the contaminated area with a mixture of 1 part bleach in 10 parts water using a misting spray bottle. Let the bleach mixture treat the contaminated area for at least 15 minutes before proceeding with cleaning.
Use paper towels to scoop up the rat poop and place the dirty paper towels in a plastic bag for disposal.
Depending upon the contamination you may need to remove and dispose of attic insulation that is soaked with rat urine. Rats use their urine to communicate with other rats. If you leave urine-stained materials behind after you have cleaned the rat poop it might attract new rats to the location so it’s wise to know what rat urine looks like.
It is not advised to use a vacuum cleaner to clean up rat or mouse poop as the dust these machines create could be hazardous. If you choose to clean the rat droppings with a vacuum cleaner then MAKE SURE the vacuum is equipped with a functional, high-quality dust filter. In this case, I STRONGLY recommend wearing a HEPA respirator.
For more information about cleaning up after rats and rodent infestation including how to decontaminate clothing, rugs, etc., consult your professional rat exterminators or read this article from the Center for Disease Control.
Additional Reference for Mice and Rat Poop Pictures
Noah Thompson is an expert in rat relief, providing invaluable tips and advice on effective rat control. With extensive knowledge in rodent behavior, he simplifies complex concepts, empowering readers to confidently tackle rat infestations. Through workshops and seminars, Noah equips communities with practical skills while advocating for humane treatment and control of rats.