Proper identification of pests is usually a critical step in their removal and control. Knowing what to look for in signs or habitats can help narrow down options of the type of pest control methods that work most effectively. Identification also ensures that proper safety measures are taken when handling dangerous pests.
Rodents carry a number of diseases that are dangerous to humans. They also have different habits and resistance to particular pest control methods, so knowing the type of rodent that needs to be removed is critical.
Rodents that make up the majority of household pests can be identified as rats and mice. The Norway rat, roof rat, house mouse, deer mouse and white-footed mouse are the 5 main pests that are found living with humans. Norway rats are larger than roof rats and their tails are shorter than their bodies. Roof rats are darker in color than Norway rats and they have longer tails. There are other differences as well, such as preferred habitats. Roof rats prefer nesting in higher elevations in homes, such as attics, while Norway rats will dwell on the lower levels and in basements.
Mice are also distinctly different. House mice are small and light tan or brown. They are extremely agile and jump vertically up to a foot high. They also can climb rough surfaces and drop down 6 feet or more without injury. Deer mice are also agile but they have a noticeably different color pattern. Deer mice have a bi-colored tail and white bellies. White-footed mice have white paws and large eyes.
The eating habits of rats and mice differ, as well. Rats are gluttonous and will eat at a location until they are full. Mice will visit a food source 20 or more times in a night to obtain small amounts at a time. This distinction helps with baiting and locating the habitats of these different pests.