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Critter Authority

(804) 492-2804

Is that a rat or a mouse in my attic?

    Fall is rodent season, which means you might notice an uptick in rodents trying to find food and shelter within your home. More often than not, these critters will often choose your attic to settle down in. Attics are a warm, safe place to hide from predators and the harsh weather outside, and they are filled with comfy insulation to make nests in. The two main rodent pests you will come across are rats and mice. It can be hard to tell what the difference between these two is. The biggest difference between the two is their size. Mice are typically tiny, and rats are much larger by comparison, with some rats being 24 times the weight of some mice. The median weight of a mouse is less than an ounce, while the median weight of a rat is around 19 ounces. Mice also have larger, floppy ears, a hairy tail and a pointed snout with long whiskers, whereas the rat has short ears, a long, hairless tail and a blunt snout. Beyond the physical differences however, the two animals have different behaviors as well. The mouse is curious but anti-social and territorial, whereas the rat is cautious but social. 

    When looking for signs of a rat or mice infestation, you will need to look for rub marks on your baseboards or lower walls, gnaw marks on wooden structures or wires, footprints in dusty areas, nests of shredded insulation and paper, and scratch marks for mice or burrows for rats. Sounds of running or scratching in your walls or attic at night are also a surefire sign. The size and shape of rodent droppings can help you determine what type of infestation you have, as rat droppings are considerably larger than mouse droppings. Autumn is rodent season, and these pests will try to make themselves at home inside your house, but a good rodent control treatment from Critter Authority can keep them out and prevent them from coming back.

    Signs of a Rat Infestation

    One of the biggest problems with rodents is that they will mostly go undetected until you have a full on infestation. Rats will tend to use similar pathways through your home, and the dirt/grease on their bodies will rub onto surfaces they pass by. These rub marks on walls and furniture are an easy way to tell if you have rodents. Rats have teeth that never stop growing, so in order to keep their teeth manageable, they will gnaw on anything and everything. Noticing these large teeth marks on wooden structures or wires around your home are a surefire sign of rats. While mice gnaw these holes as well, the rat holes are considerably larger. Footprints are also a great way to reveal a mouse infestation, as they will leave behind their prints in dusty areas of the home. If you see shredded paper, insulation or cardboard packed together, this is most likely a rat’s nest. One of the bigger things that differentiates rats from mice is that rats will burrow. 

    Rats will dig their underground burrows alongside a solid structure like the foundation of a home or underneath a solid object like a woodpile. The entrance to these burrows, typically known as a rat hole, is a few inches wide, just enough for them to enter and exit through. Rat burrows can be up to 18 inches deep and 3 feet long, and these burrows allow rats to sleep and eat in peace while hiding from predators, and the insects in the soil will also provide a food source for them. 

    Signs of a Mice Infestation

    A mice infestation will yield similar problems to a rat infestation, with a few key differences. Some signs of a mice infestation include scratching and running sounds during the night coming from your attic or inside your walls. Similarly to rats, mice teeth never stop growing, so they will gnaw on just about anything to keep it manageable as well as get into new areas. If you are seeing gnaw marks on wire covers or wooden structures, then you might have mice. The difference between mice gnaw marks and rat gnaw marks is that mice gnaw marks are smoother and considerably smaller, whereas rat gnaw marks are larger and more jagged. Small scratch marks around your home are another sign of mice. Similar to rats, mice will also leave grease marks on furniture or walls as they move along their normal pathways, and they will also leave behind footprints in dusty areas. Mice will also rip up insulation, paper and cardboard to make their nests, however their nests will be smaller than a rat’s nest. 

    Mice Droppings vs Rat Droppings

    One of the strongest and most glaring signs of a rodent infestation is the presence of droppings around the house, most often in the kitchen or attic. You might be seeing these droppings and have no clue what kind of animal they belong to, but a keen eye can spot the difference through size and shape. 

    Mice droppings will often look like small grains of rice, brown and pointed on one end. Mice droppings can often be found near baseboards, behind furniture or near where the mice were recently feeding. Like grains of rice, they are tiny, usually ¼ to ⅛ of an inch. 

    Rat droppings are much larger, and can even be a full inch long. The rat droppings you will see will depend on the type of rat, as Norway rat droppings are lighter and more spherical, and roof rat droppings are darker and pointier, like a larger version of mice droppings. 

    However, no matter if it is rat droppings or mouse droppings, both can be extremely hazardous to have inside your home, as they can contaminate surfaces and food sources and make you very sick. 

    Rodent Season

    Autumn is rodent season, when mice and rats are looking for a safe, warm place to settle down for the winter. Unfortunately, inside your home is often the place these rodents choose. Mice and rats will oftentimes settle down inside your attic, basement or crawl space, where they can rip up and soil your insulation, spread diseases through their urine and feces, gnaw holes in wooden structures and even chew rubber wire coverings, which can expose the bare wiring and cause a house fire. 

    The best way to prepare for rodent season is to target what the rodents are looking for, namely food and shelter. Mice and rats will feed on prepackaged, dry food like dog food, cat food, chips, cookies, etc. and rats will feed all of those, as well as meat and fish. Keeping your food in sealed, airtight containers that the rodents can’t chew through will help deter them from your home, as there won’t be an easy food source available. Getting rid of clutter in your home will get rid of easy spots for them to hide and feel safe, and sealing up any cracks or holes you may have in your home will also keep them from seeking shelter within. 

    However, the best way to prevent rodents from invading this rodent season is to have a preventative pest control treatment done by licensed professionals like Critter Authority

    Rodent Control for Rats and Mice

    So now you know the difference between rat problems and mouse problems, now what? Well, now it’s time to solve them! Critter Authority offers rodent control plans and general pest management plans in the Richmond, Virginia area. If you’re hearing the sounds of small rodents running in your attic or walls at night, seeing nests made of torn up insulation, seeing grease marks on baseboards, or gnaw marks on wooden structures, then you might need rodent control. You might be seeing the small scratch marks of mice, or the burrows of rats in your backyard. You might be seeing the smaller grain-of-rice sized mice droppings or the larger rat droppings. Whatever signs you are seeing, Critter Authority can solve your rodent problem in the Richmond, Henrico and Hanover areas. Contact us today at (804) 492-2804 or fill out a contact form