Signs You Have a Mice and Rat Problem

Mice and rat problems should never be taken lightly as they can pose serious health risks to you and your neighbors. Rodents can have population booms, too, so if you wait too long, it’s easy for a few of them to become more than a thousand. Recognizing the early signs of a rodent issue is critical in getting out ahead of them before they become significant problems.

Looking for Mice and Rats

Picture by Paul Hanaoka

Rodents, like mice and rats, go for dark and warm places. Some of their preferred hiding spaces include behind the dishwasher or up in cupboards. Closets can also be a rodent’s favorite because they can find lots of easy nesting there. Before asking, “How much does it cost to remove mice and rats from my house?” you first have to find them.

When looking for mice and rats, you need to have a few goals in mind. Yes, you want to verify that they’re in your home. But more importantly, you want to identify if rats or mice are the problem. Once you have that figured out, you need to find out how bad the infestation is. If you can find out where they nest and the routes they travel, it will help you determine how many rodents have invaded your home.

Telltale Signs of Rodent Infestation

The most apparent sign of rodents is droppings. You’ll see fecal matter wherever the rats or mice have been. As disgusting as finding these droppings might be, they’ll give you lots of information. When droppings are fresh, they’re going to be more pliable. If the droppings have been there for a while, they’ll crumble when you touch them. They also have different shapes, depending on which rodents left them behind. Mice droppings are smaller and pointy. Rat droppings are bigger and may have blunt or pointed ends. If you see multiple sizes, you’re looking at an active infestation with rodents of all ages.

There is also a distinct musty urine smell that you can’t miss if you have an infestation. Larger infestations mean a more pungent smell. As soon as you smell something funky, you need to find it before the problem gets worse. If the smell hasn’t gotten bad enough for you to smell it and you have pets, they’ll smell it before you. Since pets have a strong sense of smell, they’ll notice the difference. Take their cues and if they’re suddenly interested in a new area, start looking for a mouse or a rat.

Signs are on the Walls

Quite literally, mice and rats leave signs that they’ve been there all over your walls. They gnaw holes into the drywall inside your house, leave oily rub marks where they walk along the walls, and leave scratch marks. Even with these similarities, you’ll be able to tell if rats or mice are the culprits leaving behind their markings.

If you have mice, the gnawings on the wall will have smaller teeth marks. These holes are also smaller than rat holes because they’re smaller animals that don’t need as big of a space to get through. On the other hand, rat holes have larger teeth marks and tend to look more rugged than a mouse hole.

Mice also make smaller scratch marks compared to rats as they walk along your walls. The rub marks they leave behind will also be different. Oily residue from a mouse does not typically go as high up as one from a rat. This goes hand-in-hand with their size difference. Rub marks that smear indicate new movement, while rub marks that are dark and defined indicate a well-used path for the rodents in your home.

Getting Into Your Food

Like any other pests, mice and rats are searching for a place to live and a steady supply of food. If you make these available to them, it is difficult to rid your home of these unwanted guests. A common sign of mice is seeing teeth marks on the packaging or finding rips and tears in boxes and bags. Inspect your cupboards, closets, pantries, and food storage areas. If you detect that some critter has been nibbling on these items, there is a good chance that rodents have checked in. You may also see crumbs and other morsels of food on the ground nearby.

To prevent mice and rats from stealing your food, make sure you store food properly. Keep food in airtight containers. You should also clean up messes right away. Leaving food out overnight is a sure way to signal rodents out of their hiding places and into your kitchens and other spots in the house. Sweep floors frequently, and wipe down tables, counters, and other surfaces throughout the day. As you cut off a rodent’s food supply, it won’t stick around for too long.

Controlling the Rodent Population

Before you can control the population, you have to know what you’re dealing with. Mousetraps won’t work as well with rats and vice versa. Snap traps can be great if you want to kill the rodents quickly, and they’re also easy to use. Glue traps can also be a good option.

Bait can also help control the population. You can set up the bait in an area where the rodents are known to travel. They’ll stop at the bait, take a few nibbles, and then you can expect them to die within a day or two. Using bait is a lot less of a mess to deal with compared to snap or glue traps.

The Bottom Line

Rodents can carry disease, so it’s vital to deal with a rodent infestation as soon as possible when they invade your home. If you can, determine which rodent you have, but hire a professional if you’re not sure. Look for the signs of a rodent infestation to determine if it’s active or not, and pay attention to your walls. Once you know what you’re dealing with, you’ll be ready to get a handle on the situation and rid your home of mice and rats.

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