Identify, Eliminate, and Cleanup Rat Feces in Your Attic

Three types of rodents are the most common animal species to invade a residential attic. These are:

  • Rats
  • Mice
  • Squirrels

Identifying the type of animal that has infested your attic is important when it comes to determining what will done to eradicate the unwelcome visitor from your home. One way in which you are able to identify what type of rodent has taken up lodging in your attic is by the type of droppings (feces) the animal leaves behind. You are provided with some essential information about identifying rat feces as well as how you can go about undertaking rat droppings cleanup.

General Appearance of Rat Droppings

There are some more minor differences in the appearance of rat droppings from one individual species to another. These differences will be noted in a moment as they pertain to the two most common types of rats found in the United States, including in Southern California. These are the Norway rat and the roof rat.

The typical rat dropping is between 3/8” to 3/4” in length. The basic size of a rat dropping oftentimes is compared to a bean or a raisin (without the wrinkles). A rat dropping normally is a bit smaller on the ends, wit a bulge in the middle.

When fresh, a rat dropping is dark brown or almost black appearing. It is shiny and moist. As a rat dropping dries out, it becomes lighter in color – a hue akin to a light brown or gray.

Norway Rat Dropping Distinguishing Features

The Norway rat does have a distinguishing feature when it comes to its feces. Norway rat droppings are blunt on ends. They also have no discernable curve of their droppings as a whole.

Roof Rat Dropping Distinguishing Features

On the other hand, roof rat droppings have pointed ends. In addition, roof rat droppings have an overall curved shape.

Where You’re Likely to Find Rat Droppings

If rats have taken up residence in your attic, you are likely to find them in a number of locations in that space. Unlike some other animals, including different rodents, rats do not develop when biologists call a “latrine.” In other words, rats do not demarcate one specific area in which they consistently defecate.

When rats take up lodging in an attic, they very well may defecate along the walls of that part of your home. They do this because the walls of your attic will serve as protective devices for rats as they move out and about foraging for food and water.

Rats are also likely to defecate in, at, or near their nests. Indeed, because they defecate in their nests, rats eventually abandon their nests for new nesting environs because they become overrun with feces.

Rats are animals that forage to obtain food and water. Consequently, although rats may infest your attic and nest in that space, they are likely to venture elsewhere in your home seeking food, water, and nesting materials. Thus, you very well may find droppings along the pathways they take to forage and in locations in your home where they are able to access food. (Even when rats nest in your attic, your kitchen is likely to be a part of your home to which they will trek.)

Facts Regarding Rat Droppings Cleaning

Once you affirmatively identify rat droppings in your home, they exists a specific protocol that needs to be followed in order to safely and effectively undertake this type of cleanup. Safety and comprehensive remediation are the two prongs associated with a proper effort to clean droppings.

When undertaking rad droppings cleaning you need to be well aware that these feces can contain hazardous viruses and bacteria. They can contain pathogens that have the potential to make you and others ill, potentially seriously (even fatally) so. Understanding the potentially hazardous nature of rat droppings is necessary to underscore the need to clean these feces up promptly, properly, and safely.

Previously, reference was made that the appearance of rat droppings change when they dry out. Something more significant occurs beyond an alteration in the color of these feces. When rat droppings dry out they become very fragile. They crumble easily. When droppings crumble, feces dust becomes airborne and can carry with it live germs that can be inhaled by residents of a home causing them to become ill, even severely sick.

Before entering an attic to clean droppings, a person needs to wear appropriate personal protective equipment rated for a biohazard cleanup. This equipment includes protective eyewear, gloves, a smock or uniform, and a HEPA mask or respirator.

A three-part approach is the protocol used for rat droppings cleanup:

Physical removal of droppings and appropriate disposal of them to prevent the spread of disease to others.

Sanitization of surfaces and objects contaminated by droppings.

Deodorization of the attic (and any other area in a home impacted by the odors arising from a rat infestation as well as rat feces and urine.

Special attention needs to be paid to the manner in which rat droppings physically are removed from your attic. Because dried droppings so easily crumble and can jeopardize the health and wellbeing of people in your house, the feces must be thoroughly saturated with a sanitization agent.

An effective sanitization agent can be formulated using 1-part chlorine bleach to 9-parts water. The solution should be allowed to saturate rodent droppings for 20 minutes before removal.