Finding droppings in your house can be just as startling as finding an animal itself, and is a sure-fire indication that you have wild animals in your house. If you found some animal poop, but aren’t sure exactly where it’s coming from, look for these clues to help identify animal droppings.
Animals and their droppings
Mouse Poop and Rat Poop
Mouse poop can be identified by its small size and abundance. It looks similar in size and shape to brown rice. Mouse poop varies slightly in size, from 1/16 inch to 1/4 inch long, and typically is dark brown when fresh. Typically, both mouse poop and rat poop are tapered at the edges. Roof rat poop looks similar to mouse poop, but is slightly larger than mouse droppings. Largest of all are the feces of Norway Rats, which are larger than roof rat poop and are capsule shaped.
Mouse poop is found most commonly where mice eat, so expect to find some food debris around the mouse droppings as well. Mice poop can cause many diseases due to their proximity with food, including salmonella poisoning, Rickettsialpox, and leptospirosis.
When cleaning mouse or rat poop, make sure to wear gloves and thoroughly disinfect the area and surrounding area. Be thorough to get all of the mouse feces, as the droppings are small and pellets can be missed. Some disease from these droppings can be carried simply by dust, so it’s advised to wear a protective mask as well.
Best Practice: Suck it up with a vacuum. Then spray disinfectant and clean thoroughly to remove any remaining debris.
Raccoon poop is normally 2-3 inches long, and looks similar to the poop of a small dog. Because of their wide diets, raccoon poop will often contain the textures of the food it has recently eaten.
Raccoons can carry Raccoon Roundworm, which can infect humans even from inhalation. When cleaning raccoon droppings, make sure to clean the infected area by first removing the feces, then disinfecting. Roundworm requires special procedures to remove and should be handled by a professional. If you see larger droppings in your home or attic, contact a professional immediately.
Austin may be known for its large populations of bats under the South Congress Bridge, and the large concentration may lead to some finding their way into your home. Bat guano is recognizable first from its distinct smell. If you’ve smelled guano before, you’ll be familiar with the stench. If there’s a strange, unpleasant odor in your home, it might be bat guano.
Bats leave 20-30 droppings per day, and typically pile up underneath their roosts. They are dark, hard and turn to dust when picked up, and sometimes have a shimmer from the insects consumed by bats.
Bats and bat droppings are most commonly found in attics, garages and tool sheds.
Histoplasmosis is present in bat guano and can infect people without direct exposure. When bat feces are found, clean the area using a mask.
Squirrel poop is similar to rat poop, albeit slightly larger – about the size of a bean. Droppings also change to a lighter color much quicker than rat poop due to their more environmental diet.
With mice and rats, the droppings are typically close to their food. With squirrels, the feces are normally in close proximity to the entrance they use to get into your home. If you find droppings by a small opening into your residence, there’s a good chance it’s squirrels.
Similar to mouse poop, squirrel poop can breed salmonella poisoning, and leptospirosis.
Opossum poop is similar in size to dog poo, averaging 3/4 inch wide or larger, though it is typically curled instead of straight. Mold occasionally grows on possum poop.
Opossum droppings are found in proximity to their nests. While possums aren’t typically nesting animals, if they find a perfect hiding spot, like under your porch or your attic, they might decide to stay awhile.
Skunk droppings look very similar to those of cats, but also include parts of a more outdoorsy diet. Imagine cat poop with more insects, nuts and hair. Skunk droppings are about 2-4 inches long and 1/3-1/2 inch wide.
Skunks are associated with larger pest problems, and can be identified easily by their smell and holes they typically dig around their homes where they search for food. As a burrowing species, they’re less likely to enter your attic than other animals, and are more commonly found under porches and in garage areas.
Snake poop typically remains soft, as snake’s carnivorous diets leave their stool soft longer. They also often contain white or light droppings, which differentiates them from other droppings.
Snake poop in your house can be found all over, but is typically found close to their nest. This is because it takes snakes between 1-2 days to digest their meals.
All snake poop is similar, and cannot be differentiated from one type of snake to another. If you suspect that droppings you see are from a snake, they could be from a venomous snake, so proceed with caution and contact a professional immediately.
If You Find Droppings in Your Home:
- If you find feces in or near food, dispose of all the food that could possibly be affected
- Wear a mask when picking up poop. Some animals’ poop contains airborne diseases that can be infectious
- If you can’t identify the type of feces, take a picture and show a professional. Yes, it’s gross to take a picture of poop, but it can make the work for the professionals easier.
Quick guide to identifying droppings
If you don’t want to dissect or take too close of a look at the animal droppings you find in your house, follow this quick guide to identify the type of poop in your home:
- Small, by the food: rats/mice
- Bean sized, by entrances to the dwelling, often in attics by the entrance: squirrels
- In piles of pellets, likely in the attic: bats
- If the feces are very mushy and soft when you clean them up: Snakes
- If it looks like dog poop. Often in attics: Raccoons or possums
- If you find it in a shed, or under the house. Looks like cat droppings: Skunk
If you find droppings in your home, don’t hesitate: to receive an estimate on the removal of the pesky animals in your home.