Pest Identification – Rodents

When cold weather arrives in California and Nevada, the best thing to do is hunker down in your warm, cozy home and wait for spring. Unfortunately, we’re not the only mammals in the area with that idea. Cold weather brings the threat of rodents who want nothing more than to make your home their home. Even the most secure building is no match for their sneaky tactics – some rodents, especially mice, can fit through gaps as small as a dime.

Rodents are nuisance pests that can breed quickly and remain relatively undetected in wall voids, crawlspaces, basements, and any other space in your home or business that’s warm, dark, and quiet. Rodents like rats and mice are dangerous to have around because their saliva and droppings can contaminate food and spread disease. They also carry mites and fleas in their fur, which can lead to further pest infestations.

The three most common types of rodents we deal with in California and Nevada are roof rats, house mice, and Norway rats:

Roof Rats

While roof rats are smaller than their Norway Rat cousins, they are no less hazardous to your health. Sometimes called black rats or ship rats, these rodents are extremely common in the Bay Area and surrounding neighborhoods. Adult roof rats have brownish-black bodies with a lighter-colored underside, and can grow up to six inches in length (with a scaly tail that’s just as long). Roof rats get their name from their tendency to build nests in the upper parts of buildings like attics and roof voids. In order to spot a roof rat infestation, look for their droppings and check for gnawing on surfaces and electrical wires.

House Mice

Despite what cartoons may have taught you, not all mice are nice. Wild mice are carriers of disease, and are exceptionally good at sneaking into homes to steal food and water. They are mostly nocturnal and move very quickly, but if you manage to spot one, you’ll recognize their brownish-gray fur, large ears, and beady eyes. Most house mice grow no larger than around three inches.

House mice are omnivorous, so they’ll eat pretty much anything, including their own feces. They like to travel along baseboards and countertops, leaving a trail of waste to mark their way. If you notice small brown droppings the size of sesame seeds, it’s a good sign your home is infested and you should act quickly before they reproduce out of control.

Norway Rats

Though they look somewhat similar, Norway rats are larger than house mice, measuring close to seven inches with equally long, hairless tails. Unlike their smaller friends, however, rats need more space and will burrow into your home or business for access to shelter, food, and water. They are typically nocturnal, and will eat (or gnaw through) practically anything, including wood and plaster.

Norway rats also carry disease, but don’t take that lightly – we’re talking leptospirosis (which can damage kidney and liver function), typhus, salmonellosis, and more. And if their urine or feces don’t get you, the fleas or ticks they carry in their fur just might. Female rats can have anywhere from four to seven litters a year, with up to 12 pups per litter. Eliminating rodents on your property as quickly as possible should be your main concern.

Rodent Prevention

The best method for getting rid of rodents is to keep them out in the first place. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:


  • Remove pet food and birdseed from your yard to make it less inviting
  • Move brush and/or woodpiles away from your property
  • Thoroughly seal gaps in and around windows and doors


  • Keep kitchens, pantries, and other food storage or preparation areas clean and clear of food scraps
  • Consider using plastic or glass storage containers to make it harder for indoor pests to access food
  • Remove clutter from attics, basements, and crawlspaces to eliminate potential nesting places

Keep Rodents Out with Advanced IPM

Rodents may look cute, but if you’re not careful, they can eat you out of house and home – or worse. Because they can reproduce so quickly, it won’t be long before one mouse or rat turns into 100. If you’re worried that your home or business could be targeted, your best bet is to contact the professionals at Advanced IPM.

Our pest management professionals practice the latest techniques in effective rodent control to make sure the only rodents in your home are the ones on your television screen. Don’t wait until an infestation gets out of hand – contact us today for a free quote.