mid-Missouri Pest Information: Rodents

Rodent Identification

Mice and rats enter buildings in search of shelter, food, and warmth, but can easily become an out-of-hand problem. Even holes the size of a dime are no challenge. Rodents are rapid breeders who can easily invade and contaminate a home or workplace.

House Mouse

Photo of a House Mouse

House mice can adapt to their surroundings quickly and are able to breed rapidly, making them one of the most common household pests in the world. A female house mouse can give birth about every three weeks to six babies at a time, totaling to about 35 per year!

Meadow Mouse or Vole

Photo of a Meadow Mouse

Voles can be distinguished from mice by their short tails, stocky bodies, and short legs. They are brown or gray in color and have small eyes and almost hidden ears. They live in colonies and have networks of underground burrows, usually in pastures, fields, roadsides, and other grassy areas. They primarily feed on crops, grasses, beans, flower bulbs, roots, etc. The life expectancy of a vole is fairly short—usually about 2 months—because they are a vital food source for predators such as hawks, owls, foxes, snakes, and coyotes.

Norway Rat

Photo of a Norway Rat

The Norway rat has shaggy brown fur with black hairs scattered throughout, and a gray to yellowish-white belly. They have a blunt muzzle, small eyes and ears, and a scaly bicolored tail. Signs of an infestation are the same as those for a house mouse, but Norway rat droppings are about ¾” in length. They are primarily nocturnal and much more cautious than mice, shying away from new objects and changes, making them more difficult to trap. Norway rats prefer to build burrows along river banks, under concrete slabs and other places outside, but they have been found in attics, basements, roofs, and sewers. Norway rats also carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans.

Roof Rat

Photo of a Roof Rat

The roof rat has soft, smooth, brown and black fur with a white, gray, or black belly. They have a pointed muzzle, large eyes and ears, and a long, scaly tail. Infestation signs are the same as other rodents. They have poor vision but keenly developed senses of hearing, smell, touch, and taste. They are fairly cautions about new objects, although they are constantly exploring their surroundings. In structures, roof rats prefer to nest in the upper parts of the building, but may occasionally be found in basements and sewers. Outdoors, they prefer nesting in trees, but burrows are sometimes found in vegetation around buildings. Roof rats also carry a number of diseases.

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