Rodents such as rats and mice are commonly found throughout Tennessee and Southern Kentucky. There are about 2000 species classified under the category rodent, which are warm-blooded. Rodents possess long front teeth for gnawing. Well known rodent species include the deer and house mouse, the cotton, norway and roof rat. The color of mice varies; they can be gray, white, black or brown. Mice are furry, have whiskers and the back feet are close together. They are mainly night active animals and can cause a disturbance in attics, walls, and crawl spaces. Mice live approximately 3 years and produce roughly 150 young annually. They eat about 20 times daily, leave up to 100 droppings behind and mark their territory with urine. Mice are good at jumping, climbing, and swimming. In the fall, mice enter around 21 million houses in the US., all it takes for a mouse to access a home is a hole the size of a dime. Mice pose a serious health threat by carrying about 200 pathogens.


Rats are extremely aware of changes in their surrounding and will be cautions around traps and baits. Pest control professionals know how to deal with difficult-to-reach places and treat attics, wall voids and under concrete. They pose a serious health threat by carrying and transmitting diseases and parasites. Norway rats have a gray-brown color and measure between 13 and 17 inches in length. Roof rats are smaller and thinner and characterized by a tail that is longer then the body. Their fur is usually brown or black. Mice enter the house looking for shelter, nutrition and water sources and contaminate human food. The body of a house mouse is between 2.5 and 3.75 inches long, other species, such as the deer mouse can grow between 5 and 8 inches long. House mice are generally light gray, small and thin. Deer mice are brown or tan with white bellies and feet.


Rodents reproduce fast and do not hibernate. Some species breed all year. All it takes for a rat or a mouse to invade a home is a hole the size of its head, the size of a quarter is sufficient to let a rat enter a house and start an infestation. A mouse can even squeeze through a hole the size of a dime. A trained pest management professional can determine and seal entry points and perform exclusion work. Wild rodents should only be handled by professionals because of the danger of contracting bacteria or viruses. Additionally, traps need to be placed thoughtfully and requires knowledge of rodent behavior.


To prevent a rodent infestation, it is crucial to eliminate all food sources, garbage, crumbs, left overs and pet food dishes. All food in the kitchen and pantry should be sealed in containers. Always dispose of waste properly and do not leave anything on the counter or dirty dishes in the sink. Rodents commonly chew through cardboard and other substances to collect materials to build nests. This can result in costly damage when rodents tear through attic insulation, house pipes and wires. On a broader level, statistics show that roughly 20% of the earth’s food supply is being contaminated or consumed by rodents. They have even caused a significant amount of fires. About 30% of North Americans had to deal with a rodent nuisance.


The difference between a mouse and a rat can be challenging to separate. Both rodents are nocturnal and have the same fur colors. Generally, a mouse is smaller and lighter than a rat, which can grow about twice the size of a mouse. While a mouse measures between 12 and 20cm, including its tail, a rat roughly measures 40cm. Mice have big flimsy ears and a triangular snout, while the snout of a rat is blunter. A mouse’s tail is long and hairy, compared to the scaly and hairless tail of a rat. While mice leave between 40 and 100 droppings daily, a rat produces only about 20 to 50.

Rodent fun facts:

  • they are physically incapable of throwing up

  • rats can survive 3 days in water and can swim up a pipe and enter a home through the toilet

  • rats can climb walls

  • the brown rat can be found on almost all continents