Image of a Squirrel

How to Tell the Difference

People often compare squirrels to rats. Because these animals are both part of the rodent family, they can cause similar damage. However, their appearance and behavior set them apart. To determine whether a home has a rat or squirrel infestation, look at the following traits:

  • Appearance: On average, squirrels are larger than rats. They also have thick and bushy tails, whereas rat tails are hairless and thin.
  • Nesting Habits: While both pests may live in attics, squirrels are more likely to gather outside and build their nests in trees. Rats nest outdoors as well, but they often prefer to raise their young in wall voids or basements.
  • Diet: Squirrels forage for nuts, seeds, and flowers. Rats are less picky and eat everything from pantry goods to garbage.

Squirrel Poop vs. Rat Poop

If the pests aren't visible, homeowners can use feces to tell the difference between a squirrel and a rat infestation. While both types of droppings can be dark brown to black in color with blunted ends, they show up in different places around the home.

People often find squirrel scat in attics or around tree trunks. On the other hand, rats tend to defecate wherever they walk. Therefore, rat droppings usually appear along baseboards, in cupboards, and behind refrigerators or washing machines.

Squirrel vs. Rat Damage


Since both pests are rodents, they must constantly wear down their ever-growing teeth to the proper length. Both squirrels and rats will gnaw on wiring and wooden beams. Aside from chewing damage, the issues they cause are different.

Outdoor Problems

Squirrels dig holes all over yards when foraging for food. The animals also strip the bark from trees and steal from gardens. Furthermore, fleas and ticks live in their fur and spread illnesses, like Lyme disease, to people and pets.

Indoor Issues

In contrast, rats are primarily indoor pests. They contaminate pantries and ruin personal property with their waste. The rodents can carry several illnesses, including rat-bite fever, plague, and food poisoning.


Because the risk of damage and disease is a serious concern with either rats or squirrels, homeowners shouldn't attempt to remove the pests. There are different solutions for squirrel vs. rat infestations, so it's best to contact the technicians at Critter Control for proper wildlife management.

Learn more about squirrel removal.


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