How Do I Know If It Is a Rat Or a Squirrel in My House?
If you have been wondering how do I know if it is a rat, squirrel, or other critter in my house, you have come to the right place. In this article, you will learn the key characteristics of both, including the type of droppings they leave and the shape of their ears. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to decide which animal is living in your home.
Table of Contents
Identifying a rat or a squirrel
If you’re hearing noises in your house, you probably have an intruder: either a rat or a squirrel. While both animals can be difficult to spot, identifying them by their physical appearance is relatively easy. The signs below should help you determine which animal you’re dealing with. If the noises happen during the day, you can usually identify a rat by its activity. However, if you notice the noises at night, they could be squirrels.
Rats and squirrels have very different droppings. Squirrel droppings are much lighter than rat droppings, and they are barrel-shaped and odorless. A squirrel’s droppings are also lighter and generally pale brown or reddish in color. They tend to eat a variety of things, including nuts, seeds, and fruits, but rats have a much wider variety of food. Rat droppings are more distinctive, and they tend to leave trails behind them.
If you’ve discovered extensive damage to your plants, you may be dealing with a rat. While a squirrel will likely do their damage at night, rats can wreak havoc on your garden. If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard fruit tree, you’ll notice both types eating oranges. Some of the oranges are completely destroyed while others remain partially in tact.
Identifying their droppings
To determine which species is causing the droppings in your home, start by identifying the type of dropping. Most mouse droppings are round and small, while the Norway rat’s are about 3/4 inch long and have blunt ends. The pellets are dark and dusty, with no distinct striations. Flying squirrel droppings are small and rounded, and are slightly darker in color and less shiny. American roach droppings are barrel-shaped and often contain striations, while mouse pellets have no striations. Also, if you find these droppings in an area with high humidity, the droppings are likely to be American roaches.
Squirrel droppings are lighter than rat droppings. They are typically rounded, and are pale brown or reddish. Squirrel poop is smaller than rat droppings, but is similar to both in size and color. Rats eat a wide variety of nuts, seeds, and fruits. They also poop in various places, so identifying these animals in your home is important for keeping your family safe.
If you have found rat or squirrel droppings in your house, you can easily tell which animal is causing them by examining their faeces. Mice droppings are small and round, about an eighth to quarter inch in length. Norway rat droppings tend to be brown and blunt on both ends. Roof rat droppings are darker and blunted on all sides. You should contact a pest control professional immediately if you find rat droppings in your house.
Identifying their ear shape
If you’re ever stuck trying to figure out whether your new pet is a rat or a squirrel, the ear shape can help you identify the two of them. Rats have a longer and wider head than squirrels do. Likewise, the upper part of a rat’s head is flatter and taper toward its snout. The head of a newborn squirrel is more round than a rat’s, but it tapers more toward its snout. Unlike rat’s, a newborn squirrel’s toenails will be dark brown, black or white.
Squirrels and rats have bushy tails covered in thick bristles that match their body color. They tend to stand with their tails up and “flop” over about 1/3 of the way up. These two types of animals are different because of their shape, and they’re easy to spot. Rats have a short tail that is flat and stubby, while squirrels have a long, thick tail covered in hair.
Rats have ears that bulge out more than mice’s. While this may seem trivial, this characteristic helps distinguish the two species, as their head and ears are significantly different from those of mice. Rats are also nocturnal, while mice are active during the day. If you hear any sounds at night, you’ll want to note the time of day in order to better identify the pest.
Could it be a rat if I found droppings in my house?
Yes if you find droppings that are small and dark it is likely a rat.
What if I saw the animal outside my house?
If you saw the animal outside and it was small and had a long tail it was most likely a squirrel.
I found a hole in my wall could that be how they got in?
Yes rats can squeeze through extremely small spaces and may have made a hole in your wall to get inside.
I heard scratching in my attic is it definitely a rat?
It is likely a rat if you hear scratching in your attic or walls since they like to nest in these areas.
How can I tell the difference between rat and squirrel droppings?
Rat droppings are small and dark while squirrel droppings are larger and tubular in shape.
I saw a rat in my house but it was small- does that mean it’s a baby?
No even adult rats are relatively small animals.
The animal was eating from my bird feeder so it must be a squirrel right?
Yes squirrels often eat from bird feeders and can be seen raiding trash cans for food.
I found some fur on my floor could it be from a rat?
Yes rats have fur that is usually dark brown or black in color.
Will a rat eat my pet’s food?
Yes rats will eat almost anything and are not picky eaters.
I saw a rat in my garden does that mean it’s a wild rat?
No wild rats are actually rare in North America.
I found a dead rat in my house how did it die?
It is difficult to say how the rat died without knowing more about the situation.
There was a rat in my house and it ran into a hole in my wall- what should I do?
If you have rats in your house you should call an exterminator to get rid of them.
I think there is a rat in my house but I’ve never seen it- is that possible?
Yes it is possible to have rats in your house and never see them.
I think I saw a rat but I’m not sure- what should I do?
If you are unsure whether or not you saw a rat you can try setting a trap to catch it.
I found a rat in my house and I killed it- will that take care of the problem?
No if you have found one rat in your house there are likely more.
You should call an exterminator to get rid of them.
Jessica Watson is a PHD holder from the University of Washington. She studied behavior and interaction between squirrels and has presented her research in several wildlife conferences including TWS Annual Conference in Winnipeg.