How to Handle Mouse Droppings
Here's how to identify mouse poop and dispose of it safely
If you've come across mouse and rat droppings in the past, chances are you've simply swept them up and out with the everyday dirt and dust. That's actually a bad idea, because they can carry a wide range of diseases that are dangerous to humans—and many of those diseases are spread by breathing in dust that's been contaminated by mouse poop or urine. (The same goes for rat droppings.)
Diseases Spread by Mice and Rats
While there's no reason to panic if you see rat or mouse poop in your home, rodent droppings can be potentially dangerous. Here are some of the diseases they can spread if you forget to put on rubber gloves while handling rodents or their droppings. Avoid touching your nose, ears, or mouth, and always wash your hands (even with protection) once you're done.
- Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome is a respiratory disease caused by stirring up air contaminated by rodent feces. (Avoid sweeping up droppings!)
- Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection you or your pet could get by coming into contact with water, food or soil that contains rodent urine.
- Lymphocytic choriomeningitis is a rodent-borne neurologic disease you can get either directly from a mouse bite, or if a cut or scrape on your skin comes into contact with rodent urine or feces.
- Rat-bite fever is a bacterial infection caused by coming into contact with rodents carrying the disease, their droppings, or contaminated water.
- Salmonellosis is an infection you can get by eating or drinking food or water contaminated by rat feces.
Rat Poop vs. Mouse Poop
What does rat poop look like compared to mouse poop? Here's how to recognize mouse poop when you see it: Each pellet is just ⅛ to ¼ inch long, shaped like rice, and narrow at either one or both ends. One mouse can produce 50 to 75 droppings in a single day. Rat droppings are larger—½ to ¾ of an inch long—are dark, and both ends are pointed.
How to Handle Mouse and Rat Droppings
Once you notice an infestation, follow these simple guidelines to get rid of mouse poop safely:
Ventilate the area. Letting fresh air in for a half hour or so can go a long way toward helping get rid of particles in the air that may be contaminated.
Don't touch mouse droppings with your bare hands. Don't touch mouse droppings with your bare hands. Instead, put on a long-sleeve shirt, protective gloves, and a mask. When you're done cleaning, remove the gloves and wash your hands and clothes thoroughly with soap and warm water.
Spray contaminated surfaces with a bleach-based or household disinfectant. You can make your own using a 1:10 ratio of bleach to water. Spray hard surfaces, letting the disinfectant sit for at least 5 minutes. Be sure to throw contaminated cardboard and other material away.
Don't stir things up. Clean and disinfect, yes. Sweep and vacuum, no. Instead, carefully pick up disinfected droppings with a paper towel and dispose of them in a plastic bag. Continue spraying and wiping down contaminated surfaces.
Mop and wash up. Clean floors with the same 1:10 bleach solution or household disinfectant. Wash exposed clothing, towels, and bedding in a washing machine, using soap and the hottest water possible.
Safely dispose of the nest. Spray nests with bleach water, wait at least 5 minutes, then carefully place nests and nesting materials in a plastic bag. Always double bag and seal before throwing away in a covered trash can.
How to Get Rid of Rats and Mice
Of course, you'll also want to take steps to get rid of the rodent leaving all of those droppings behind. Here's what to do:
Fix holes and seal up gaps. Repair, caulk, and fill openings in and around the house with steel wool and sealant to help keep mice and other rodents out. Keep an eye out for dime-sized holes around pipes, vents, and fireplaces. (If you have a rat problem, the holes will be slightly larger.)
Don't give them what they want. Mice and rats are after two things: food and shelter. Be sure to wipe up spills, put leftovers away, and store pet food, seed, and other dry foods in heavy-duty, lidded plastic tubs. Inside the house, reduce clutter, take trash out regularly, and replace cardboard boxes with plastic bins stored off the floor. Outside, clean up debris and move potential hiding places like compost heaps and stacks of firewood far from the house. Quality cleaning won't drive rodents away, but it won't attract them, either. And that's half the battle!
Bait wherever there are signs of infestation. Mice reproduce rapidly and often, so you need to tackle the problem right away. An easy way to do that is to place a Tomcat® Mouse Killer Child & Dog Resistant, Disposable Station in each area in which mice have been spotted, following label directions. The unique design makes it easy for mice to get in while helping keep little fingers and paws out. Bonus: It's weather-resistant, so you can use it inside or out, and each bait block kills up to 12 mice*. (Now, that's a lot of mice!)
Sure, now you know how to safely clean up mouse poop, but who wants to do that on a regular basis (or ever)? Once you've rid your home of mice, keep them out so you won't have to clean up after them ever again.