Squirrel or Rat: Who Invaded Your House?

Are crumbs of food often seen littering your house? Shells of nuts? Near walls? On terraces? At corners? You clean and the next day, does it happen again?

Well, your frustration is understandable. You probably have a squirrel or rat infestation.

To know and deal with which pest invaded your house, read ahead!

Important Note: If you're tired of pests and want a reliable solution, then you should definitely consider seeking help from a professional pest control company. DIY solutions can be effective, but if you're dealing with a significant pest infestation, you don't want to rely solely on DIY methods. Pest control companies typically don't charge huge fees. You can fill out this form to receive free quotes from the top local pest control companies, and compare the quotes and see for yourself. Then, finally, your pest problems will be eliminated for good.

How to Identify the Infestation?

Squirrels and rats can both be problematic pests. While one is cute and furry, the other is ugly and repelling. They are different species of rodents. To avoid confusion over which pest has infested your house, there are some identifying markers. They are:

Nesting Grounds

If you suspect squirrel or rat infestation, try looking for their nests.

Squirrels mostly build their nests on trees and come into your home for occasional warmth and food. Or sometimes to avoid the bad weather. Their nests are large and made of twigs and leaves and branches, basically all leftovers from nature.

On the other hand, rats prefer nesting inside your homes in voids or basement corners, or holes in walls. Remember Jerry’s hidey-hole? Yes, like that. Their nests are made from any available materials they find like cardboard, newspapers, plastics, etc. The nests are usually smaller compared to squirrels.

Dietary Habits

Figure out what kind of food is missing or appears to be gnawed at.

Nuts are all-time favorites for squirrels. Leave around nuts and they are bound to be gnawed at if you have squirrels in your house. Squirrels also eat seeds and fruits, flowers, and essentially tend to be herbivores.

They can even eat up rats in case of scarcity of food.

Rats on the other hand are attracted to carbohydrate-rich food items like bread, etc, sweet and salty snacks, and meat. They even feed on dead creatures like roadkilled cats or birds.

How to Identify the Infestation? Squirrel or Rat?

Time of Activity

This is the key difference between squirrels and rats.

Pay attention to any ambient noises from the attic or terraces during the daytime. Because it is in the daylight hours (especially during dawn and dusk) that squirrels are seen scurrying around for food. So if you leave nuts around during the day, they are likely to be missing or chewed at.

Rats are nocturnal workers. They come out in the dark when all your lights are switched off. So it is while you are in bed that you need to listen for any sounds coming from the basements or pantry or even your bedroom. If you leave food around at night, you might see chewing marks or pieces of food lying around. This confirms the presence of rats.

Sounds Made

Squirrels jump and move. So the most sound made is those of the up and down movement. Or the thumping sound of their tail thrashing. Occasional chattering can also be heard.

Rats make squeaking sounds while moving. Bangs and falling of objects might be heard as rats are prone to run into things due to weak eyesight in general.

Tracks Left

Squirrels jump and hop around. So they leave behind irregular gaps between paw marks.

Rats drag their tails when moving. This leaves an obvious trail. Also, they have oily fur and keep to the sides of walls because they can’t see very well. So you can look for any smudges on the lower sides of the walls.


Squirrels are not that bathroom conscious. So they excrete anywhere and everywhere. Their droppings might be found around tree trunks, in attics, or on terraces.

Though rat droppings look the same as squirrels’, dark brown or black, rats seem to have designated areas to excrete. Their droppings are found behind refrigerators, cupboards, and under beds. A large number of rat excreta might be found in a single place because all rats tend to use that area only.

Damage Caused

Damage caused by squirrels is mostly concentrated outside. They destroy your gardens and yards. They also chew through house materials to create entry points.

Rats cause huge damage inside the house. They contaminate pantries and lead to different diseases.

How to Get Rid of Rats?

  • You can lay traps or leave behind poisoned food around prospective rat hiding places
  • Fill up any and all gaps in your house
  • Call in professional pest control
get rid of rats

How to Get Rid of Squirrels?

  • Peppermint oil can be used as a squirrel repellant
  • Do not feed them
  • Try and fill all gaps that let in squirrels in your house
  • If nothing works call the professional pest control

Final words

Squirrels and rats both are little thieves and food hoarders. But as we saw, they leave behind different markers.

So if you know what to look for and where to find them, you can easily recognize which pest invaded your house. That way you can gauge the amount and type of prospective damage and take the necessary steps.

Photo of author


Daniel White
I'm Daniel White, and I live in Jacksonville, Florida. The warm and humid climate of Florida gives an ideal habitat for many different kinds of pests. So, if I had to live in Florida, I had to learn how to deal with these pests. Now, I have 7 years of experience in Pest Control.

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