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Rat Droppings vs. Mouse Droppings

Updated March 23, 2017

Rats and mice are two common rodents that inhabit people's homes. These two rodents are very similar in nature, although rats are much bigger than normal mice. To determine which type of rodent is dwelling in a home, people look at the droppings of the unwanted creatures. By investigating the droppings, you can discover which type of rodent is there.

Rat vs. Mouse

There are two common types of rats that dwell in the U.S. which are the Norway rat and the Roof rat. Norway rats are larger and generally live in basements or first floors of buildings, while Roof rats dwell in upper stories of buildings and are smaller than Norway rats. All types of rats spread disease and cause contamination in food, including salmonellosis and foot-and-mouth disease. There are numerous types of mice that dwell in homes. Mice also carry disease and contamination; they are capable of carrying over 20 different types of disease and contamination, including E Coli and salmonellosis.

Number of Droppings

A normal rat is approximately 5 inches long and leaves approximately 25,000 droppings every year. Most rats leave droppings constantly as they move. Mice are approximately 3 inches long, and a typical mouse leaves approximately 18,000 droppings per year.

Dropping Characteristics

The droppings left by rats are dark in colour and soft when they are fresh. After several days, the droppings begin to harden and the dark colour fades. The droppings are normally up to 1/2- to 3/4-inch in length and approximately 1/4-inch thick. Rat droppings are long and spindle-shaped. Norway rat droppings have pointed ends, while Roof rat droppings have blunt ends. Droppings left by mice are much smaller. They are black and normally 1/8- to 1/2-inch long and are pointed at both ends.

Other Details

When a rat climbs, claws or moves, it makes sounds and leaves footprints and tail drags. Rats also leave gnaw marks, and most prefer to eat cereals, fruits, vegetables and meats. Mice also leave gnaw marks and generally prefer eating cereals and nuts. Mice are good at jumping, climbing and fitting through very small holes.

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About the Author

Jennifer VanBaren started her professional online writing career in 2010. She taught college-level accounting, math and business classes for five years. Her writing highlights include publishing articles about music, business, gardening and home organization. She holds a Bachelor of Science in accounting and finance from St. Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Ind.