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Taxonomy terms

UNDERSTANDING RODENT FAECES

Romain Broch, sales and marketing manager for Liphatech, recaps the characteristics of faeces of different rodent species, to help pest managers quickly identify their target pest. 

Rodents possess a strong sense of smell. Not only does it influence food choice, but smell also plays a key role in communication within the colony and in navigation. It has been shown that urine plays an important role for communication within a colony by leaving distinctive odours by which individuals can recognise each other and rodents will navigate in their environment following pheromone trails left by ‘pioneering’ rodent foragers.

Faeces also play an important part in the communication system of the colony. It is has been proven that food sites with faeces are more attractive to rats than those without. It is also believed that both urine and faeces may entice colony members to prefer specific food. Not only do they act as a stimulus marking potential food sites, but they also teaching individuals about food choice and availability, from residues found in the droppings and urine.

Indeed it is common behaviour for young and adult rats to eat faeces from other rats. This can be viewed as social learning, teaching colony members what is good to eat in the area. Young rats in particular have been shown to prefer food located close to these faeces.

As a pest controller, you’ve probably noticed that you often find droppings in the bait station, close to the baits. Often these droppings entice other rats to come in the bait station and feed from the bait.

Therefore, if possible, leave them in bait stations and avoid cleaning bait stations with detergent or strong odour cleaning chemicals which would erase the pheromone trail and reduce the attractiveness of your bait.

What does this mean for rodent control programs?

  • Place bait stations in area where droppings are found
  • If bait uptake is an issue, collect fresh droppings from known food sites and place them in bait stations
  • Do not heavily clean bait stations. Use a brush, no chemicals
  • Of course, wear gloves when handling rodents stations, traps and bait.

Faeces and rodent identification

Rodent faeces can be a great help in identify the pest rodent present. Not only the location of the droppings but their size and shape can provide clues as well.

Don’t forget size can be variable – for example, the faeces of a young Norway rat will be a lot smaller.

Rodent faeces identification chart

More rodent information.

Romain Broch, Sales and Marketing Manager, Liphatech