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Animal Poop Identification Guide

54 min read | Updated for March, 2019

While wild animal waste may not be something you think about or consider on a daily basis, it will spark your interest when it shows up on your property. Being able to identify the excrement that is left behind allows you to gain valuable insight into the animals that frequent your property or, in some cases, take up residence there.

It can be unnerving to find that a wild animal is in close proximity to you and your family. It’s important to identify the animal you are dealing with so you can assess the risks, threats, and consider the next steps in evicting them from your home. There are a lot of inherent risks that result in humans being near animals and their waste. Arm yourself with the information you need to identify wildlife feces and the most common culprits leaving it behind.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
  • Identifying Rat Poop
  • Identifying Mouse Poop
  • Identifying Bat Poop
  • Identifying Squirrel Poop
  • Identifying Coyote Poop
  • Identifying Possum Poop
  • Identifying Skunk Poop
  • Identifying Fox Poop
  • Identifying Snake Poop
  • Identifying Rabbit Poop
  • Identifying Chipmunk Poop
  • Identifying Raccoon Poop
  • Summary

Identifying: Rat Poop

Rat Poop

Rat droppings are brown and solid in texture, measuring about half an inch in length. They are oval-shaped and may taper to a point at one or both ends.

How to Get Rid of Rats

Geography

Rats can be found anywhere on Earth where humans live. There are many species of rats, but all are opportunistic and adaptable, thriving almost anywhere that food and shelter are abundant. In North America, they are most populous in the coastal regions.

Although it varies based on the species, common nesting sites for rats include areas in and around your home, warehouses, barns, cellars, garbage dumps, etc. They typically nest at or below ground level, though some species prefer more aerial nesting sites such as attics, wall cavities, trees, and roofs.

Factors to Identify

Rat droppings are brown and solid in texture, measuring about half an inch in length. They are oval-shaped and may taper to a point at one or both ends. Individual rats produce an average of 40 droppings per night, so they accumulate fast! Rats live in packs, and their droppings are left in large, scattered groups.

What to Do If Droppings Are Found

If you find droppings in or around your home, it’s an indicator that you may have an infestation, or at the very least, some frequent and unwanted visitors. Start by collecting and putting away all food, including pet food, in secure containers. After that, thoroughly clean and disinfect floors and counters.

Before cleanup can begin, make sure you take care of any active infestations. Set traps and seal up any entryways where rats can enter (which include any openings the size of a quarter and larger). The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests that you continue trapping for a week after sealing off your home; once the amount of snared rodents decreases to zero then the infestation has been eliminated and the area is no longer infectious.

When you are confident that your visitors are gone, follow these steps for safe clean up:

  • Open doors to ventilate and air out the space for at least 30 minutes before you begin.
  • Wear heavy latex gloves (never touch or handle rodent feces with your bare hands).
  • Spray the urine/droppings with a disinfectant and let soak for five minutes (do not sweep or vacuum droppings).
  • Clean up droppings with a paper towel and dispose of them in an airtight bag.
  • Disinfect the entire area, including any contaminated items.
  • Steam clean any fabric of upholstered items such as rugs, furniture, or draperies that are in the vicinity and wash cloth items in detergent and hot water.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands once cleanup is complete.

Rats carry a wide range of diseases such as Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), Leptospirosis, Lassa Fever, Salmonella, Tularemia, and Rat-Bite Fever. You can contract one of these through inhalation of contaminated dust, direct contact with feces, or ingestion of food/water contaminated by urine and/or feces.

When to Call a Professional VS DIY Solutions

If you are dealing with one nest or a small-scale infestation, it is reasonable to attempt the clean up on your own. Because of the dangers associated with rodent droppings, it is essential to be thorough and to follow the steps outlined above to make sure that it is done safely and effectively.

However, rat droppings pose a severe threat to the health and safety of your family so you may want to refer to a professional service in the following instances:

  • Your efforts to get rid of rats are unsuccessful, or there is a large-scale infestation.
  • You are uncomfortable or unable to get into attics or crawl spaces where clean-up efforts need to take place.
  • You have highly vulnerable people in your home, such as elderly parents, babies and small children, or individuals who are sick or have asthma.
  • You don’t have the proper clothing and/or supplies to safely and adequately clean up rat urine and droppings.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
  • Rat Poop
  • Mouse Poop
  • Bat Poop
  • Squirrel Poop
  • Coyote Poop
  • Possum Poop
  • Skunk Poop
  • Fox Poop
  • Snake Poop
  • Rabbit Poop
  • Chipmunk Poop
  • Raccoon Poop
  • Summary

Mice Poop

Mouse droppings are similar in size and shape to a grain of rice. Fresh droppings are very dark brown and lighten as they age.

How to Get Rid of Mice

Identifying: Mouse Poop

Geography

Mice are one of the most abundant and prolific creatures on Earth due to their ability to adapt and thrive in such a wide variety of environments. From forests and countryside to cities and structures, mice can create a suitable habitat most anywhere.

Mice that live in the wild dig burrows underground for protection. If you find that you have mice living in your home, common nesting sites include ceiling voids, storage containers, basements, garages, and inside walls. Mice may live outside near your home foundation or in shrubbery during the warmer months when they can find plenty of insects and seeds to eat, but they may migrate inside when food becomes scarce and the temperatures drop during the colder months.

Factors to Identify

Mouse droppings are similar in size and shape to a grain of rice. They are about an eighth to a quarter of an inch in length with pointed tips. Fresh droppings are very dark brown and lighten as they age. Droppings are typically found in large, scattered groups. They are much smaller than rat droppings, which is the key to telling the difference between the two.

What to Do If Droppings Are Found

If you find mouse droppings in your home, it is a sure sign that they have taken up residence on your property. Mice multiply very quickly, producing eight litters a year from the time they are two months old, so your infestation can quickly grow in scale. Additionally, mouse droppings pose many threats to your health, so it is crucial to address the situation immediately.

If you see large groupings of mouse droppings outside your home, this doesn’t mean that they are in your house. But it does mean that your chances for an impending infestation are high. As soon as outdoor food sources dry up in the winter and the temperatures dip, nearby mice will look to your garage, crawl space, attic, or home for warmth and food.

If you have taken precautions to get rid of mice but continue to find droppings in the same place over and over again, then a further investigation needs to be done. Look for openings near the area, filling in holes as small and narrow as a pencil. Place more traps as well, especially along walls as this is where they prefer to travel.

Before you begin to clean up after a mouse infestation, make sure that the mice are gone. Otherwise, you are wasting your time and will be repeating the process over and over. As with rats, the CDC suggests that if a week goes by without catching one, then the infestation has likely been resolved and the viruses that may be contained within the urine/droppings are no longer infectious.

At this point, you can begin the process of cleaning up after your unwanted guests. The steps for mice are the same as the steps for rats:

  • Open doors to ventilate and air out the space for at least 30 minutes before you begin.
  • Wear heavy latex gloves (never touch or handle rodent feces with your bare hands).
  • Spray the urine/droppings with a disinfectant and let soak for five minutes (do not sweep or vacuum droppings).
  • Clean up droppings with a paper towel and dispose of them in an airtight bag.
  • Disinfect the entire area, including any contaminated items.
  • Steam clean any fabric of upholstered items such as rugs, furniture, or draperies that are in the vicinity and wash cloth items in detergent and hot water.
  • Thoroughly wash your hands once cleanup is complete.

It is very important to take action at the first sign of an infestation as rodent droppings harbor a variety of infectious diseases that can harm you and your family. This includes Hantavirus, which can lead to HPS, Salmonella, and Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis (LCMV) through contact with urine/droppings.

When to Call a Professional VS DIY Solutions

The presence of mouse droppings in your home presents serious health risks to you and your family and should be handled as quickly as possible. You can clean up on your own as long as you are thorough and follow all of the steps outlined above. If you are unsure about whether household items may have been contaminated, take steps to disinfect and clean them.

Because there are multiple health risks associated with rodent droppings, cleaning up is an urgent matter. While you can tackle it yourself, here are some instances when you may want to consult a professional service for help:

  • If your efforts are not successful in eliminating the infestation, it may be a sign of a more significant, more severe problem and a professional should be contacted immediately.
  • You are uncomfortable or unable to get into the areas where clean-up efforts need to take place, such as a crawl space, air duct, attic, etc.
  • You have highly vulnerable people in your home, such as elderly parents, babies and small children, or individuals who are sick or suffer from asthma and allergies.
  • You don’t have the proper clothing and/or supplies to safely and properly clean up mouse urine and droppings.

There are many different ways you can identify different animals around your home or in the wild, poop is one of the most common. Read more in this guide about how to identify different kinds of animal poop.