How to Identify Mouse Droppings

A single mouse scurrying through your house is unpleasant, but a trail of mouse droppings could be a sign of something worse.

A mice infestation is a problem that many homeowners face, and you don't need to wait for those little creatures to appear before you address it. Take action as soon as you begin to notice mouse droppings to help prevent these resourceful rodents from creating a larger infestation.

What Do Mouse Droppings Look Like?

It can be difficult to tell mouse droppings from rat droppings (or other pest droppings), but size is a key differentiator. Mouse droppings are generally an eighth to a quarter of an inch in length. They are also tapered at the ends and may resemble dark grains of rice.

Despite what you may hear, determining how old rodent droppings are is difficult as the color often depends on the food source. The best way to determine the age of the droppings is to remove the droppings, or have them professionally removed, and then re-inspect the area after 24 hours. If you have new droppings, then you have a current infestation.

Rat droppings are usually a half of an inch in length. These droppings are wider and larger than mouse droppings.

Where to Look for Mouse Droppings

Mice are nocturnal, so they aren't easy to spot. That's why the droppings they leave behind are a good indicator of an infestation.

Mice can produce between 50 and 75 droppings — also called pellets — every day. The extent of a mouse infestation can sometimes be determined by the number of pellets you find and where they are located. And there’s usually more than one mouse involved.

It’s a good idea to check or have a professional inspect the following areas of the home if you suspect mice are afoot:

  1. Kitchen cabinets, pantries and other areas where food is stored or prepared
  2. Utility closets and areas around appliances and water heaters
  3. Bathroom cabinets and closets
  4. Attic and crawl space
  5. Any part of the home where there are air vents, exposed pipes or holes in walls

How to Get Rid of Mouse Droppings

To get rid of mouse droppings, the first thing you want to do is to remove the mouse or mice that are causing them. You can remove the droppings, but if the mouse or mice are still in your home, then new droppings will likely arrive. We recommend you have a professional help remove the mice and the droppings.

If you don’t want the help of a professional to remove the droppings, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cautions that it is never a good idea to touch them or to pick up the pellets with your bare hands. Take the following precautions from the CDC instead to remove mouse droppings whenever you find them:

  1. Air out the space where pellets are found for at least 30 minutes before cleaning.
  2. Wear rubber, latex or vinyl gloves and a breathing mask or respirator.
  3. Use a disinfectant spray on the area and let it soak in for five minutes. You can also make your own version by mixing one part bleach to 10 parts water.
  4. Clean the area with disposable rags or paper towels.
  5. Put the mouse droppings and disposable cleaning supplies into a plastic bag; seal it well.
  6. Place the sealed bag in a covered trash can, and take out the trash as soon as possible.

It is also important to avoid sweeping or vacuuming up mice pellets before you’ve properly cleaned the area. Particles from mouse dander and droppings could become airborne, potentially making members of the household sick.

Dealing With a Mice Infestation

It is also critical to address any situation that may be making your house more inviting to mice, like:

  1. Look for potential entry points mice may use to gain access to the home. Their bodies are flexible, and many can get through openings as small as a nickel or a dime.
  2. Since mice can chew through plastic, wood, wires and insulation, be sure to close off any openings that give them access to these materials in walls or crawl spaces.
  3. Seal openings around pipes or cables that run through walls to the interior of the home.
  4. Limit access to food sources. Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink or food crumbs on the floor, and close up food stored in cabinets and pantries securely. Also, if possible, don't leave food in the bowl after your pet has finished eating.
  5. Keep pet food secured in a heavy plastic container. Foods in soft plastic bags, cardboard and paper should be kept in heavy plastic containers.
  6. Don’t allow trash to pile up. Keep trash can lids closed both inside and outside the home.
  7. Clear clutter around the home's exterior and garage.
  8. Stack firewood in a storage shed or elsewhere away from the main house.

If mice droppings keep appearing in your home despite your best efforts to keep those crafty critters out, or if you want help from a professional from the start, contact the professionals at Terminix®.