There are more than 124 million housing units in America, and statistics show that out of all those units, 14.8 million report seeing mice and rats in their houses. Not only that, but these numbers do not include the millions of rural and suburban residences, office buildings, warehouses, and restaurants with infestations.

If you have a problem with rodents, you must be able to locate their nests. However, these nests and their locations can vary depending on the species. House mice, Norway rats, and roof rats are the most common species to enter a structure and build a nest. Below are details about how to identify and find each kind of rodent’s nest.

Norway Rat Nests
Roof Rat Nest
Mouse Nest

Norway Rat Nest

Norway rats adapt well to living around humans. They typically prefer to burrow underground, with nests commonly found beneath buildings, homes, concrete slabs, and other structures. Unlike other species, Norway rats do not like to climb and will try, instead, to access your basement or crawlspace. They also like nesting under rock piles, clutter, and garbage.

If looking for a nest, check for small holes around the edges of your home, driveway, and shed. The entrance to one of these types of burrows is usually two to four inches. If you investigate a burrow, you will notice the dirt is packed tightly on the sides, making the tunnel smooth. Burrows are about 18 inches deep, with multiple tunnels connected to the central nest. These nests are round balls containing debris and materials tough enough to last but soft enough to house a litter of babies, like shredded paper, cardboard, leaves, and plants.

Norway rats don’t travel far away from their nests or food sources, usually only about 150 feet. Due to the rapid rate at which they reproduce, you can expect to find a colony to live on your property, not just one rat. A small colony can have ten to fifteen rats, while a large colony may have hundreds.

Roof Rat Nest

Roof rats are smaller than Norway rats, so their nests may be smaller but will still look like woven balls. The materials used to build a nest are also similar, including soft paper shreds, cloth, plant leaves, insulation, and garbage. Roof rats can access a wider variety of nest materials because they like to build their nests in a home’s attic, along roof edges and ceilings.

If searching for a nest, look in dark, empty spaces in the highest spots of your home. Roof rats like to climb and prefer to nest in high places. They spend most of their time at least four feet off the ground. You may be able to find a nest in ceilings and walls by listening to the noises roof rats make.

The roof rat’s nest can be mistaken for a bird’s nest, but there are simple ways to differentiate the two. A bird’s nest is usually only made from twigs and leaves. A rat’s nest will be constructed from natural and manufactured soft materials, even plastic. Furthermore, you can check for droppings near the nest. Bird and rat droppings are very different. Rats also tend to damage items near their nests, like chewing on electrical wires, breaking shingles, and gnawing on wood.

Roof rats travel farther away from their nests than the Norway rats, but still only up to about 300 feet. Like all other rats, roof rats live in colonies because of their high reproduction rate. One female roof rat can produce more than 30 offspring in one year.

House Mouse Nest

House mice use a wider variety of materials for their nests, creating a round ball between four and six inches in diameter. The nest may not be as tightly woven as a rat’s and may contain wood chips, pellets, vinyl, plastic, papers, carpet, drywall, and insulation. Mice nests have multiple purposes, like storing food and housing newborn pups. Many homeowners find mice nests in attics, walls, ceilings, cabinets, under appliances, closets, garages, and sometimes under the hoods of vehicles.

Finding a house mouse’s nest means following urine, feces trails, and gnaw marks on walls, floors, and cabinets. If you notice wood shavings or small piles of materials, they could be items a mouse dropped on its way back to a nest. House mice usually leave obvious signs of food contamination near the things they destroy, like crumbs and droppings.

House mice rarely travel more than 30 feet from their nests, but they will travel in all directions, claiming all the territory within the circle. This behavior does not make them easier to trap, however. Also, house mice leave their nests about forty times daily for food and water. Mice live in colonies, and you may have one or two dozen living in the same area.

How to Get Rid of a Rodent Nest

When getting rid of a rodent’s nest, your first instinct may be to pick it up, shake it apart, or dump it in the garbage can. Ignore this instinct. Rats and mice carry diseases and pass them on to humans via direct and indirect means. You may get bitten if you reach for a nest and a rodent is in it. Rodent nests are also filled with feces, urine, and parasites. Touching a nest without protection puts you at risk of encountering mold spores, bacteria, fleas, and ticks, among other unsavory encounters.

Getting rid of rat and mouse nests involves steps that vary based on the species. Simply trapping them will not prevent future infestations. Call Critter Control service to resolve your rodent problem. These experts will perform extensive inspections, use the correct baits and traps, and implement exclusions to keep rodents out for good. Most importantly, they have the right tools and equipment to remove and sanitize the nest area safely.

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