What Are the Differences Between Squirrel Droppings and Rat Droppings

The thought of discussing the differences between squirrel droppings and rat droppings is not pleasant. Nonetheless, if you’ve noticed animal droppings around your property, you are best served to be able to identify what type of feces is present. In this regard, it is important for you to distinguish between squirrel droppings and rat droppings.

In considering distinctions between these two types of droppings, there are some definite physical differences. There are also differences in what types of bacteria or viruses potentially can be carried in these two different types of feces. Both categories of differences are discussed in this article.


With only a quick glance at squirrel and rat droppings, you might initially determine that they look quite similar. In fact, if you look a bit more closely, you will be able to discern a difference in color between squirrel and rat droppings.

Overall, squirrel droppings tend to be paler than are those of rats. Rat droppings usually are darker, almost black. This color difference is chalked up to the diets consumed by these two different animals. Rats have a much more diverse diet. Some say they eat nearly anything. Squirrel droppings are usually brownish in color or even have a bit of a red hue.


The shape of feces is another way of distinguishing between squirrel and rat droppings. A squirrel’s feces usually are larger than those of a rat. In addition, a squirrel expels feces that are more barrel-shaped. Squirrel feces nearly always look even, level on the surface.

On the other hand, rat feces are oblong in shape. Indeed, they can look almost rectangular, absent truly sharp edges. Rat feces also tend to be smooth, but sometimes not as even as those expelled by squirrels. 

On first glance, the feces of these two animals are sometimes referred to as looking like raisins. This reference is made to outline and size, but not surface texture.


The contour of the edges is also another way in which you can distinguish squirrel and rat droppings. Rat droppings typically are thicker in the middle and pointy on each end. On the other hand, squirrel droppings nearly always have what typically are called softer and more circular ends.


Squirrel droppings tend to be clustered in specific spots. Squirrels can be said to be more discrete when it comes to where they relieve themselves. Their feces are not scattered all over the place.

The same cannot be said of rats. Rats are largely indiscriminate and expel feces relatively indiscriminately. With that said, rat feces will be particularly spread out along their walkway courses, the paths they take to get from one location to another.


There is one element in common with both squirrel and rat feces. In fact, this holds true for all rodents. Both squirrels and rats pass a considerable amount of feces on a daily basis.

Diseases Contracted From Squirrel Feces

Squirrels and humans coexist fairly easily. Squirrels and humans do not often come into conflict with one another.

There are diseases that can be carried in squirrel feces. The transmission of disease from squirrel feces to humans is not common. With that said, there is a trio of diseases that potentially can be transferred from squirrel feces to humans:

  • Salmonella
  • Tularemia
  • Leptospirosis

Diseases Contracted From Rat Feces

Rat feces can also carry salmonella and leptospirosis. In addition, rat droppings can also carry the hantavirus, a virus that initially was recognized in the United States in 1993. During the initial decade following the discovery of hantavirus in the Four Corners area of the country, more than 600 people were infected with the virus. Of the total number of people infected, more than 200 people died.

Dust From Squirrel and Rat Droppings

When squirrel and rat droppings dry out, they can crumble, releasing dust into the surrounding air. Rat droppings crumble easier than do those produced by squirrels.

With that said, when droppings crumble and the associated dust becomes airborne, the dust can contain harmful pathogens, like leptospirosis in either animal or hantavirus in rats. If the dust containing pathogens is breathed in, a person can become infected. An infection can have serious health consequences. Indeed, with hantavirus, fatal consequences occur in over 30 percent of infections with this virus.

This reality underscores the necessity of exercising care when cleaning up either type of dropping. Odds are that you would be more likely to face the prospect of cleaning up rat droppings as opposed to squirrel droppings. There are biohazard cleanup professionals trained in safely and thoroughly cleaning up potentially contaminated materials, including squirrel droppings and rat droppings.