Some problems, like a flat tire or broken window, are obvious and require very little investigation. Others, such as certain bodily diseases, can go undetected for a long time. Yet another group, those that provide the occasional minor hint of an issue, can leave you unsure and wondering. Rat and mouse problems can fall into this last group.
Fortunately, there are some easy ways to know whether or not you have a rodent problem. These methods primarily involve something you already possess; your physical senses. More so than with many other pests, you can employ more of your physical senses when determining if you have a rodent issue. With a little help that we provide below, you will have no problem “sensing” whether or not you actually have a rat or mouse problem!
Rat and Mouse Sounds
There are a few other critters that could get inside you house and make noise. Squirrels, birds, and even cats or raccoons can commonly enter homes. Birds and squirrels are most commonly heard in the attic while raccoons or cats have been known to squeeze into crawl spaces. Thus, there is the need to be able to distinguish sounds to determine the type of critter. Birds will generally create a lot of loud racket as they are scared and not wanting to be inside. There might be light banging against walls between rest stops. You can also hear their wings flapping and bumping up against surfaces. Squirrels, the acrobats that they are, tend to jump around, also making more of the banging noises.
Raccoons and cats will be heard almost exclusively from below, with the occasional loud scratching noise. Rodents however, will be more varied in their noise locations. Walls are most common, but ceilings and crawl spaces can occasionally be heard to have noise too. The sounds are usually a softer scratching or light shuffling as they scurry about. Unlike birds and squirrels, the sounds are not necessarily tied to specific time of day; they can occur anytime.
Because the smell of rodents is not a pleasant one, it can get your attention quickly when you come into contact with it. What you generally smell is the feces and urine. Depending on their locations of where they are active, you may or may not smell this, so not smelling them is not necessarily a sure fire proof that you don’t have a problem. Most commonly, the smell of old rodent urine is a musky, slightly ammonia odor. Depending on the age and volume, it can range from mild to unbearably strong. While the feces volume of rodents compared to larger critters is small, if the infestation is old enough the smell from it will be come quite strong too.
Sight – Visual Observations of Mice and Rats
It is hard to say which sign will catch your attention first, but visual observation certainly holds the most clues of all the senses.
Obviously if you visually see one, you’ve got em! On occasion, there will be a solo rodent, but typically, if you see one then there are others unseen. Here is a list of the most common visual signs:
Droppings – Tiny dark brown/black pellets ranging from ¼” to ½” in length, depending on whether they are mice or rats. The darker they are, the older they are and if you are new to a residence or facility, they could just be remnants of a previously solved infestation.
Urine – If still wet, it will look pale to moderate yellow, often oily looking and of course, accompanied by the musky smell mentioned above. Once dried, there might not be much color to the urine but on close inspection you still can see the “water marks” on certain surfaces. Rodents tend to leave a steady drip of urine when exploring, particularly females. Black light can make it show up however, be prepared to be shocked. Some things are best left unseen unless you are truly prepared to do a lot of corrective work.
Chew or scratch marks – Look for this either on household walls near baseboards or on paper or cardboard items such as boxes and bags.
Insulation damage – Insulation is a favorite for rat and mouse nesting. If you don’t see the nests themselves, small sections of ripped and pulled insulation or a scattering of pieces is a good sign.
Ragged edged holes – Particularly at the structure’s exterior perimeter, next to existing penetrations through the siding, such as piping, venting, and cable entries, look for openings that have been gnawed open. A typical mouse can easily fit through a 1/2” hole while a smaller rat might only needs a hole the size of a quarter to find it’s way into your home.
Tracks – While not nearly as easy to spot for someone unfamiliar with what to look for, you may be able to see that rodents leave small footprints as well as marks from their tails dragging. This would be most common along an often used travel path next to the foundation – either inside our out.
Burrows – Also most commonly present not too far from either the inside our outside of the foundation, burrow holes of rats can be sign that they are entering and living in your home.
Pet Reactions – Finally, if your pets, either cats or dogs, are showing repeated, seemingly random interest in a nook or cranny or just a plain old wall, even after you have taken them away, they might see, hear, smell something that you haven’t yet. Give then a little credit and explore the area.
Whether you have gone through these easy steps and determined that you definitely have a mouse or rat issue or it you are still unsure, give the rodent control experts at All Pest a call today to get started on exterminating your rodent problem.