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Identifying Your Rodent Problem

Identifying Your Rodent Problem: Squirrels vs. Mice

Find yourself hearing the telltale sound of scratching at night? Chances are, you may have a rodent problem.

But what kind of rodent is it?

To the untrained eye, mice and squirrels can leave behind very similar clues. However, when it comes to extermination, it’s important to know exactly what you’re dealing with so you can treat it as efficiently as possible. Mice and squirrels are two common rodents found throughout North America, and both of these mischievous little critters can do considerable damage to your home if left to their own devices.

Squirrels, for example, can be particularly harmful when it comes to your home’s electric cables. It’s quite common for squirrels who have decided to nest in your home to chew through wires in your walls and crawl spaces like your attic. And, because a squirrel nest can house up to seven squirrels at a time, you can only imagine the amount of damage that can be done.
Mice can also be quite troublesome creatures. Due to their small size and the fact that they are constantly feeding throughout the day, Mice leave fecal droppings just about everywhere they go. Due to their tiny stature, they can live in tiny, hidden spaces (such as inside your walls – thus, the scratching) that are hard to access.
Arguably, the worst part about these two creatures is the fact that both can be carriers for a wide variety of diseases such as typhus, ringworm, and even the bubonic plague – yep, you read that right, the black plague.

So, How Do I Tell Them Apart?

There are a few different observational approaches you can take to tell these two pests apart. The first (and typically easiest) method is by analyzing the droppings they leave behind. Because squirrels are larger animals than mice, the size of their droppings will be, as a result, much bigger. Where mice have droppings that are approximately the size of a grain of rice, squirrels leave behind droppings that are closer to the size of a bean.

The time of day at which you hear scratching can also be an indicator of whether or not you have squirrels or mice. Squirrels are most active during the day while mice are predominately nocturnal. So, if the scratching you hear comes primarily at night, you can probably bet you’re dealing with mice. Make sure to keep an eye out for possible points of entry; damage along the roof line, missing shingles, and crevices in outer panels can make for easy “doorways” for pests. Significant claw and/or bit marks are likely signs that you’re dealing with squirrels – especially if the point of entry is higher off the ground (e.g. your roof). Points of entry that are close to the ground, such as cracks in your home’s foundation, are far more likely to be used by mice.

What Can I Do to Stop the Infestation?

Luckily, the internet can offer a lot of great resources and instructions on how to get rid of pests. That being said, there is no piece of advice greater than this one: call a professional exterminator.
While, sure, doing your own extermination might be budget-friendly, you run the risk of actually making the problem worse. And, don’t forget, both mice and squirrels can be carriers for diseases – and this includes feces that’s been left behind. Both squirrel and mice feces can carry bacterial diseases like salmonella, so you’ll need to handle the cleanup with care and precision. For this reason, it’s always best to bring in the experts.

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