How to Identify Pests by Droppings

How to Identify Pests by Droppings

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"Fresh pest droppings will appear wet and present a soft and moist appearance. Older pest droppings will look hard and dry. If the droppings appear dull in coloration and firm then this means several days have passed since this waste was created."

How to Identify Pest by Droppings

This article is a general DIY guide to identifying droppings made by various pests. By following this information and using the recommended products, you can get control of your pest problem. For the protection of your welfare, make sure to wear the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and mask when handling or examining pest waste.

When it comes to effectively controlling pests, early prevention is the key. It is not uncommon for homeowners to examine sings of damage as an early indication of pests, but no signs of wear and tear does not mean there are none. In fact, pests can travel behind walls and underneath furniture to evade detection. One thing these pests cannot hide is their excrement.

Pest droppings is an easy sign of an infestation inside or outside of your home. Depending on the pest, defecations are usually left along the boundaries of their territory or site of activity, edge of home and yard, middle of yard, and sometimes within the attic or basement of a home. Pest feces serves as an early warning of potential population outbreaks and a safety hazard since fecal matter has the potential to spread diseases.

While physical identification of a pest or their damages is the normal go-to-method, this can give the pest enough time to increase the size of their populations and activity within your property. Read our expert DIY guide to animal or insect droppings, including how to identify the pest it came from and what recommended products to use to remove these invaders.

Raccoon Feces

Raccoon Droppings

If you have a potential raccoon infestation, then the most likely place this pest will invade is the attic and basement. Racoon feces tend to be large in size ranging from 2 to 3 inches long in height and similar to medium sized dog droppings, but have a darker coloration, tubular shape, and granular texture.

Another easy way to differentiate between dog and raccoon feces is to examine the contents of the droppings which may contain seeds, berries, and fur. Be cautious when inspecting raccoon feces as it has the highest potential of carrying harmful diseases or parasites such as roundworms.

Raccoon are prone to defecate in the same area repeatedly (known as latrines) for extended periods of time. These latrines are a community bathroom site for multiple raccoon pests, which leads to high piles of feces and concentration of odor. In the outdoors, these sites are seen around the bases of trees, between tree forks, underneath porches and woodpiles, tree limbs, and raised horizontal surfaces like large rocks, fall logs, and stumps.

Opossum Feces

Opossum Droppings

The feces of racoons and opossums are similar, although opossums will taper at the end and have a curled shape. Unlike raccoons, opossums will defecate in various spots as they are traveling across your attic and basement. Coloration of their droppings will range between brown with some yellow or white hues to it. It is not uncommon to mistake their droppings with that of a small to medium sized dog as it will also be segmented into 2 to 3 droppings.

Opossums are omnivores that mainly feed on insects, frogs, rodents and occasional fruit, nuts, plants, and grains. However, these pests are most likely to ingest meat or human food than grains so their feces will not contain as much seeds like raccoons. As a result, the texture of opossum waste is more smooth in appearance and rounded in shape. They will measure 3/4 of an inch in diameter and reach up to 2 inches in length.

Mouse Feces

Mouse Droppings

Droppings and other visible damages are similar between deer mice and house mice. These two rodents are the most common mice species to invade homes and yards. The house mice is more inclined to invade the interior of your home and infest kitchen, garage, and basement areas. Deer mice have the ability to travel into a home, but are commonly found within wooded and agricultural areas. Farms, homes, and businesses surrounding these sites have a larger possibility of deer mice infestations than house mice.

House mice and deer mice are very prolific in the amount of waste created and can be seen within drawers, inside storage containers, under sinks and appliances, and other hard to reach areas. House mice and deer mice droppings will measure to a quarter of an inch long similar to the shape and size of a grain of rice. They are dark to light brown colored with a smooth appearance. The difference between these pests is that house mice feces will resemble a rice grain and deer mice feces will be more pointed at the end.

Rat Feces

Rat Droppings

Some homeowners feel as if there is no difference between rodent and mouse droppings. However, by closer examination of the size and location of the fecal matter will help determine whether it is a rat control or mouse control issue. In contrast to mouse droppings, rat droppings appear larger in length and more broader in width.

Fecal matter of rats will vary with each species. For example, Norway rats have blunt ends measuring to 3/4 inches and roof rats will have pointed ends that are 1/2 inches long. Like mouse's, rat droppings have a pellet shape just slightly larger.

These droppings are normally black in color, with a shine if fresh. Due to a rats size they cannot easily enter smaller voids like mouse's so larger spaces such as behind or around furniture and objects, along the wall of garages, sheds, attics, basements, hallways, and underneath kitchen appliances are most likely to be infested. Rats will scatter their waste sporadically as they travel throughout your home and yard.

Cockroach Feces

Cockroach Droppings

Cockroach waste often gets confused with rat and mice stools due to the similarity in texture and size. Depending on the size of the roach will determine the size of its excrement. Small cockroach droppings like the German cockroach resembles the texture of black ground pepper, coffee grains, or small grains while larger species like the American cockroach are slightly bigger in length, more solid, and shaped like a grain of rice or pellet. Pellets will appear dark brown or black in color while the coloration of smaller cockroaches excrement is black.

The pellets of larger cockroach species are bigger than mouse droppings and have ridges running along the side of its waste whereas rats and mice are smooth edged. Cockroaches create fecal matter may resemble a scattered pattern since these pests create waste wherever they travel.

They can easily invade the inside of cabinets and drawers, top and underneath of furniture or appliances, corners of rooms, and along the baseboard of walls. Unfortunately, cockroaches heavily depend on food and moisture which makes your food, tubberware, sinks, countertops, and plumbing susceptible to pest activity.

Like most pests listed in this article, cockroach excrement has the potential to carry several harmful diseases. However, it should be noted that cockroaches could have a broader range of these pathogens since they ingest their own and others species of pests fecal matter.

Termite Feces

Termite Droppings

Many homeowners clean termite droppings considering it to be piles of dust or sawdust. This happens because of the fine, grainy textured appearance of termite dung. However, upon closer inspection of these piles of frass you can tell the difference between each species of termite and regular piles of wood dust material.

The excrement of drywood termite appears as tiny, round shaped capsules with six rounded sides. The texture of these pellets will be smooth and hard to the touch. When it comes to subterranean termites, their waste will have a moist texture as it is used to construct mud tunnels that run up walls and a homes foundation. While on the contrary, drywood termites will push their droppings out of their tunnels to form piles that look like sawdust.

Frass from drywood termites may be found directly underneath these pests exit holes. Drywood termites are known to create their homes within attics, eaves and soffits around the exterior of homes and wood base structures. You may find these frass or exit holes in decaying trees and wooden window frames in the vicinity of your yard. The color of drywood termite feces varies between light brown to black, depending on the type of wood the termite is ingesting.

Squirrel Feces

Squirrel Droppings

Squirrels and mouses leave roughly similar droppings, about 3/8 inches in length while rodents are slightly larger at 3/4 inches. Typically, droppings from these pests have a cylindrical pellet like shape with rounded tips. Depending on the length of time the waste was created the coloration is mainly black, but could vary to light brown to reddish brown.

Fresh squirrel feces contain a moist and smooth texture with rounded edges and wide center. Rat and mouse droppings will have more of a narrow shape with differentiating pointed ends. One way to separate these pests is to examine the location and amount of droppings.

Most of the time, squirrel feces is found in attics, crawlspaces, base of trees, birdfeeders, and edges of rooms. The amount of waste depends on the number of squirrels inhibiting the area or the amount of days that have passed for the infestation. Squirrels produce a high amount of excrement like rodents, but will appear similar to clusters whereas rodents are scattered across multiple surfaces.

Lizard Feces

Lizard Droppings

Lizard droppings look like most species of bird droppings-mushy with a white-like end. However, lizard waste will vary between liquid, solid, or soft whereas birds or snakes are usually more liquid in texture and shape.

When firm these fecal matter have a pellet shape that is moist in appearance. Various lizard species disperse a combination of fecal and urinary matter at the same time which gives it a soft to somewhat firm form. One thing that is definite in each lizard species is the 2 parts of the waste. One part of the waste will be brown or black colored while the other half is white to yellowish.

The brown to black portion represents the lizards manure and the yellow to white half at the end of feces is crystallized urine. Lizards, like other species of reptiles, perform this function to maintain moisture within their bodies more easily. Typically, lizard excrement will be found on the outside of the home near light fixtures, porches, rocks, plant leaves, and horizontal to vertical surfaces like walls or fence post. It is not uncommon to find this pests fecal matter on the walls, window frames, and light fixtures on the inside of your home.

Key Takeaways

How to Differentiate Pest Droppings

  • Examine the quantity, shape, texture, and location of the animal, reptile, and insect feces. Animal feces are prone to be in medium sized voids, attics, basements, and around baselines of trees. Insect and reptilian pests will be found in hard to reach areas, within walls, and underneath plants or porches.

Droppings that Are Similar to Rodents

  • Squirrels and cockroach waste are the most similar in appearance to rodent feces. Squirrel droppings will be smaller than rat feces and have a rounded end whereas rodents have a tapered end. Cockroaches have a higher chance of being mistaken for mice waste since they are the same in the size and shape. Edges of cockroach waste is rigged while rodents are smooth.

How to Treat Pests Creating Waste in Homes and Yards

  • Without physical identification of the pest, you are limited to humane live traps and glue boards. For outdoor pest activity, you may use Solutions Live Animal Traps or Solutions Professional Rat/Mouse Glue Tray. We recommend using a Solutions Professional Rat/Mouse Glue Tray for indoor treatments. Make sure these traps are not in the pathways of children or domestic animals.

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