There's no denying that rodents like mice and rats are very common all over the U.S. But that doesn't mean you have to welcome them into your business. No matter what industry you're in, keeping rodents out is essential for meeting compliance standards and protecting your reputation—and by extension, your bottom line.


Here's what you need to know about common rodents, the damage they can do, and how to handle rodent control and prevention in a way that makes sense for your business.

Rodents to Watch Out For

Commensal rodents, which include Norway rats, Roof rats, House mice, live off humans and animals without returning anything of worth. Instead, their presence can lead to lost inventory, risk of being shut down, and a damaged reputation.

Since they are all opportunistic feeders, commensal rodents go wherever their next meal is. Whether you're in the food supplyfood serviceretailhospitality, or property management industry, keeping an eye out for signs of rodents should be an essential part of your day-to-day operations.

House Mice

Mice are always on the hunt for a food source and a warm place to nest. They typically range from light brown to dark gray and may be anywhere from 2 to 5 inches long. They are capable of squeezing through an opening as small as a pencil, so you have to be extra diligent with repairs if you want to keep them out.

Mice are nocturnal, so they'll be out and about at night when you and your staff may not be around to notice. But you'll see signs of their presence, such as gnawed baseboards and cardboard boxes, chewed food containers, and droppings. Mouse droppings are usually a quarter inch in length with pointy ends, and they'll often be grouped together.

Mice will eat just about anything, but they are most attracted to carbohydrates like grains, oats, rice, fruits, and seeds. They like to be close to a food source, so they'll often nest in the walls around the kitchen or other food prep and storage areas.

How to help prevent mice: 

  1. Seal up holes and cracks and cover openings with steel wool.
  2. Maintain a vegetation-free barrier close to the building and make sure trees and shrubs are trimmed back and do not touch the structure.
  3. Clean and disinfect the kitchen and other food prep areas regularly.
  4. Keep food storage containers sealed and off the floor.

Mice making themselves at home in your business can have a lasting impact. Our rodent control services can help.

Norway Rats

Norway rats, also known as brown rats, street rats and sewer rats, are omnivores that will eat almost anything. They have a keen sense of smell and will follow their nose to food. Up to 11 inches long with brown or gray fur, some Norway rats can squeeze in through an opening as small as ¾ of an inch. They also reproduce rapidly, with one female capable of giving birth to up to five litters a year.

Norway rats like to burrow and often live underground, so if they get inside your business, they're most likely to nest in basements and crawlspaces where it's dark.

Known to carry disease-causing pathogens that can contaminate food and inventory, Norway rats can cause long-term problems for businesses. Watch out for signs of gnawing, greasy-looking rodent runways and scampering noises. Droppings are longer, pellet shapes that aren't quite as plentiful as mouse droppings.

How to help prevent Norway rats

  1. Eliminate sources of moisture like leaking pipes and dripping faucets.
  2. Keep trash receptacles clean and dumpsters secure.
  3. Prune any vegetation around the perimeter of the building to eliminate spots for rats to burrow unnoticed.
  4. Never leave food out in the open, especially overnight.

Roof Rats

Roof rats can often be found outdoors, but their search for food and shelter can also lead them inside your business in places like attics, roofs, and chimneys. They have strong climbing skills and will make their way from tree branches or power lines onto the roof of your building easily. From there, they can enter through an opening the size of a quarter.

Ranging from light to dark brown, roof rats are a bit smaller than Norway rats at up to 8 inches in length. While they are most attracted to seeds and plants, roof rats will eat just about anything they can find and will gnaw through just about anything including plastic, soft metals and other materials to get to food. They are also foragers that like to stash and hoard food supplies for later.

Signs of roof rats include gnawing, electrical issues from the rats chewing through wires in the ceilings and walls, greasy rub marks on walls and floors where they are traveling, and droppings about ½ an inch long with pointed ends.

How to help prevent Roof rats

  1. Cut branches back from the roof of your building to make it harder for rats to get onto the roof.
  2. Inspect the roof and seal up any holes or openings.
  3. Keep food areas clean and food properly sealed and stored.
  4. Dispose of garbage and waste regularly and keep dumpsters secured.

What to Do If You Suspect Rodents

A rodent infestation can get out of hand quickly if you don't know what you're doing. That's why calling a pest control expert like Terminix is a smart investment for the health of your business. A technician will inspect your business property, identify the type of rodent you're dealing with and determine the best course of action, including both elimination strategies and prevention for the future.

While there are plenty of signs that you might have a rodent infestation, seeing a rodent, alive or dead, is the most obvious. If you see a mouse or rat in or around your business, play it safe and call a pest control expert immediately.

Have you noticed any of these signs at your place of business? Call us at 877.837.6464 for a pest control quote or to book a service.

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