What Do Rat Droppings Look Like?

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Rat droppings are usually the first thing we notice when we have rats in our home or property. Rats may be smart and cautious animals but they are not smart enough to hide their rat feces from us. As a result, when you have rats on your property you can expect to see their small rat turds pretty much anywhere – from the spaces beneath furniture to the middle of the room. Usually, rats will leave their droppings by the edges and corners of rooms which is where they pass through.

Still, if you’re not careful or watchful enough you can miss the little droppings, especially in warehouse, garage, basement, roof or crawl spaces. Simply noticing the rat droppings is just the first step, however, because you’ll also need to find out exactly what you’re dealing with. There are different types of rats that require different rat control methods and various types of baits plus the droppings you’ve found may not even be from rats but from another small animal.

To help you properly identify the kind of pest you’re dealing with, in this article we’ll go over what do rat droppings look like, what are some of the common rat feces dangers, how to clean rat droppings, and more.

Rat droppings’ physical appearance – size, color, shape, and more

Rat droppings look pretty much like you’d expect them to – small, oval-shaped, brown and nasty. Depending on the type of rat you’re having, the rat droppings size will be between half an inch (1.25 cm) and three-quarters of an inch (2 cm). They can have either blunt or pointed ends, depending on the specific rat type.

rat droppings

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In terms of color, most rat droppings will range from dark brown to black. However, that’s also dependant on their recent diet habits so they could be lighter too.

Is there a difference between Norway rat and Roof rat droppings?

As Norway rats and Roof rats are the two most common types of rats in Europe and the U.S., it’s worth knowing how to distinguish between them. When it comes to excrements, the main difference between Norway rat droppings Roof rat droppings is the same as the difference between the rodents themselves – the size. Norway rat droppings are typically larger in size and can reach ¾ of an inch up to a whole inch. Roof rat droppings, on the other hand, are smaller and closer to half an inch.

As for their shape – Norway rat droppings typically have blunt ends while Roof rat droppings are pointier.

Since these two types of rats tend to live in different parts of our properties you can also expect to find their droppings at different locations. Norway rats tend to keep to the ground so their rat turds will be mostly on the ground, on the edges and corners of rooms or beneath furniture.

Roof rats, on the other hand, usually stay high on the roof, in the walls, in high cabinets, or walk on support beams. So, you can expect to find their excrements there or to find them scattered on the ground if they’ve fallen down.

Are rat droppings similar to other animal or insect droppings? How to distinguish them?

Rats are far from the only rodents that can invade your home or property and they are also not the only ones that can leave piles of droppings on your floor. Mice and squirrels, in particular, are the other two big offenders that not only bother us on the outside but can settle in our homes.

Mice droppings are fairly easy to distinguish from rat droppings simply because they are significantly smaller. As far as shape and color are concerned, they look very similar to rat droppings, but size is the main giveaway.

Where a Norway rat’s dropping can be close to an inch in length, the typical mouse dropping is rarely longer than a quarter of an inch.

Squirrel droppings are harder to distinguish, especially when compared to Roof rat droppings. Both are about half an inch long, both have the same shape and color, and both are left in the same places – the attic, outside of holes in the walls, underneath support beams, and so on. The main distinction between roof rat and squirrel droppings is the ends – roof rat droppings have pointier ends while most squirrel droppings have rounded ends, similar to Norway rats droppings (which are still larger than squirrel droppings).

Are rat droppings dangerous?

As any good governmental health organization will tell you – rat droppings can spread quite a lot of diseases and parasites. That’s why cleaning rat droppings is always paramount and you should be even more careful if you have pets that might eat or lick the droppings. The chief concerns listed by organizations such as SanDiegoCounty.gov or the CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) are several and are spread to humans in two ways:

  • As viruses that can be breathed in from the dust formed from rat droppings. Diseases that fall in this category include Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, Hemorrhagic Fever with Renal Syndrome, Lassa Fever, Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis (LCM), and others.
  • By eating or drinking food or water that is contaminated by rat droppings. Diseases that fall in this category include South American Arenaviruses (Argentine hemorrhagic fever, Bolivian hemorrhagic fever, Sabiá-associated hemorrhagic fever, Venezuelan hemorrhagic fever), Rat-Bite Fever, Salmonellosis, Tularemia, and others.

How to safely clean rat droppings?

As rat droppings are not only dangerous in and of themselves but can also spread diseases and viruses in the air around them, cleaning any significantly large number of droppings should be done very carefully. Here are the main steps to consider:

  • Make sure that there are no rats present to continue dropping their excrements after you’ve cleaned
  • Air out the space for at least an hour using cross-ventilation and leave the space while doing so
  • Always use rubber or latex gloves as well as a face mask
  • Spray the droppings with a disinfectant or a bleach/water mixture and let them soak for at least 5 minutes
  • Use paper towels to gather the droppings and dispose of them
  • Disinfect and clean all the items and spots that have been in direct contact or close proximity of the droppings
  • Clean the whole area as well since the dust could have spread the viruses or diseases anywhere.

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