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How To Identify Rodent Droppings

Updated: Apr 12

How To Identify Rodent Droppings Graphic

If you ever find little droppings in your house, you may have a rodent infestation. It is quite perturbing to have rats and mice sneaking about, but how can you find out what kind of rodent it is? Examining the size, shape, color, and location of the droppings will help you identify the rodent.

Knowing what kind of pest problem you have will also determine if you can handle it yourself or if you need to call in pest control.

Identifying Rodent Droppings

Identifying rodent droppings is not a pleasant task, but it is the first step to knowing if you have a mouse in the house or a rat in the attic. By examining their size, shape, color, and location, you can quickly tell if they are mouse droppings, rat droppings, or other pest droppings. Here's a quick overview of how to identify these pest droppings.


Rodent droppings come in various sizes, depending on the species. Some are small and resemble dark grains of rice, while others are larger and fatter.


Some droppings are elongated or have a cylindrical shape, while others are rounded. They can have pointed, blunt, or rounded ends.


Fresh droppings are moist, dark brown or black, with a sheen. As time passes, they lose moisture and start to decompose. The color changes to a gray hue, and they dry out. This can happen within 48 hours, and the color of the droppings will indicate how recently they were deposited.


The location of the droppings can give you a lot of information. If they are found near food storage areas like the kitchen, pantry, or pet food, the pests are looking for food. If the droppings are along the walls, this could indicate their travel routes, and if they are found in attics or near water heaters, it could be where they nest.

This type of information will give you an indication of the rodents' behavior, their routes, and their exit and entry points to your home. It will also give you a reasonable idea of the type of rodent you're dealing with.

Let's look at the common types of rodents and their specific droppings.

Common Types Of Rodents

The term "rodents" is not restricted to rats and mice, although they are the most common rodents you will find in a domestic setting. There are 2,000 different species of rodents, including the more common rats, mice, hamsters, and gerbils. Knowing the differences between these types and how to identify their specific droppings is very helpful.

Rodent Droppings

Rodent droppings are typically fairly small but large enough to be able to differentiate between them. General characteristics like size and color can help differentiate and identify mouse droppings versus rat droppings.

By examining details like the droppings' shape, color variations based on age, and the common locations where they might be found, it will be easier to track down and identify these pests. For example, mice tend to run along the same routes, while rats have larger droppings than mice. Either way, getting rid of a rat or mouse problem starts with some investigation.

House mouse

The common house mouse is around 2.75-3.93 inches long with light brown or gray fur, and it has a lighter underside. They generally live in walls, ceilings, and under floors. They eat anything from crumbs to insects.

House mouse droppings

  • Size: 0.11-0.19 inches. Mice droppings are small, smooth, and about the size of a grain of rice.

  • Shape: Elongated or rod-shaped with pointed ends on both sides.

  • Color: Dark brown or black. Fresh droppings may appear shiny.

  • Location: House mouse droppings are generally found near food sources, along walls, or in nesting areas like roofs, attics, or inside walls.

Deer mouse

A deer mouse has light brown fur, a lighter underside, big eyes, and large ears. They are generally 2.75-3.93 inches long and are commonly found in fields and forests. However, they are sometimes found in homes where they have easy access to food.

Deer mouse droppings

  • Size: 0.11-0.19 inches. They are small and about the size of a grain of rice.

  • Shape: Oval or round-shaped with blunt ends.

  • Color: Dark brown or black and can have a shiny finish when fresh.

  • Location: Deer mouse droppings are found near nesting areas, especially in garages, sheds, along baseboards, or in pantries.

Roof rat

Roof rats have black or dark brown fur with a lighter underside. They are around 7.87 inches long and can be found in attics, walls, and ceilings.

Roof rat droppings

  • Size: 0.31-0.47 inches. Smaller than brown rat droppings but larger than mouse droppings.

  • Shape: Spindle-shaped with pointed ends (sometimes pointed on one side only).

  • Color: Dark brown or black; turns grayish as it decomposes.

  • Location: Roof rat droppings are usually found in attics, walls, or nesting areas near water sources.

Brown rat

A brown or Norway rat is fairly large, at 14.96 inches long. It has brown fur and a light underside and is found in sewers and burrows.

Norway rat droppings

  • Size: 0.47-0.74 inches - much larger than mouse droppings.

  • Shape: Elongated pill-shaped with blunt ends.

  • Color: Dark brown or black; may look greasy if fresh.

  • Location: Norway rat droppings are often found near or in basements, along walls, or near pet food areas.


Hamsters are house pets, not home invaders. They are around 5.9 inches long and are very often golden brown with white patches. In the wild, they are found in burrows, while pet hamsters are generally kept in cages.

Hamster droppings

  • Size: 0.19-0.31 inches. Hamster droppings are slightly larger and chunkier than mouse droppings.

  • Shape: Oval-shaped with rounded ends.

  • Color: Dark brown or black.

  • Location: Found in hamster cage bedding.


A gerbil has light brown fur. It has a black stripe down its back and a white underside. They are around 3.93-4.72 inches long and live in burrows in the wild or cages.

Gerbil droppings

  • Size: 0.11-0.19 inches. Similar to house mouse droppings but slightly elongated.

  • Shape: Rod-shaped with pointed ends.

  • Color: Light brown to dark brown.

  • Location: Found in gerbil cage bedding.

Other Pest Droppings

Finding droppings is one of the signs that you are dealing with an infestation. If you are still unable to identify whether you're dealing with mouse droppings or rat droppings, you may need to get a professional pest control service to assist. Although less common, you could have squirrels or - more commonly - cockroaches. Getting rid of pests sometimes requires professional help.

Cockroach droppings are typically small and look like coffee grounds. They are around 0.04-0.2 inches long and have a cylindrical shape with blunt ends. There may be ridges on the sides of the droppings. Droppings are usually found in kitchens, bathrooms, or other areas with moisture and food debris, as well as along walls and behind appliances.

Common Places To Find Rodents

Unfortunately, rodents can easily find cozy spots to nest and scavenge for food in our homes.

Attics, crawl spaces behind bathroom and kitchen cabinets, and areas with suspended ceilings are popular spots for rodents. They can also squeeze through small spaces. Look around your exposed pipes, wires, vents, or any cracks in the foundation.

Kitchens and pantries are popular spots for rodents. You can find them in cabinets, under sinks, and in food storage areas. Basements, garages, and closet spaces are all areas where they can build nests undisturbed.

While droppings are a giveaway, look out for other signs of rodent activity. They love to gnaw on furniture or wires, grease trails along walls, and scratching sounds can indicate a rodent problem.

How To Clean Up Rodent Droppings

Many homeowners face a problem when it comes to dealing with this type of cleanup. The issue with a rat or mouse infestation is that rodents can carry diseases, parasites, and bacteria, and are completely unhygienic. They will happily trail through garbage and sewers, and feces can attach to their paws and fur. Rodent urine smells like ammonia and leaves a pungent stench.

To get rid of rat or mouse droppings, you need to properly disinfect the area. Protect yourself by wearing gloves and a face mask. If you have protective eyewear, it is advisable to use this as well.

Don't sweep or vacuum the droppings. Instead, use a disinfectant, like bleach diluted in water. Dampen paper towels with the solution, and wipe the droppings.

To dispose of the droppings, throw the dirty paper towels into a plastic bag. Tie the bag tightly and throw it in the trash immediately. Use the same solution to wipe the area afterward to disinfect it, and then thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water.

You could also call professionals to assist with biohazard decontamination and ensure the area is thoroughly and promptly cleaned. This will ensure your living space is a safe and hazard-free environment once again.

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