How To Properly Identify Common Rodents For More Effective Rodent Control

People often assume that if they see something small and quick-moving or large and scurrying, they have a mouse or rat problem. The truth is, there are several different kinds of rodents, and even some mammals, that may make you jump and shriek, and not all the same methods of rodent control are going to work. Here is the short list of critters you may catch a quick glimpse of, how to identify them as best as you can, and what rodent control approaches you can use with each of these.


Moles are small rodents, often with black or very dark brown fur and almost no tail to speak of. They move very quickly and try to stay out of the sunlight because it hurts their already inhibited eyesight. If you see something of this color and size with no tail dart through your yard early in the morning or just at sunset, you have a mole. Moles are most easily caught and controlled with mole catchers, an odd-looking type of trap that looks like twin c-clamps joined in the middle by a spring. When these pests run through the middle of the trap, it triggers the trap to spring up out of the ground where you placed it and clamp shut on the mole, thereby killing it.


Voles are often confused for rats and mice because they are small and look like a mouse that has a very long, rat-like tail. They may be a couple of different shades of brown or have a mottled coat, depending on where you live. They are creatures of habit and continuously create grass "tunnels" in your yard—areas where the grass is flattened down and looks like a roadway or speed track. In winter, their tunnels are made through snow as the cold weather does not seem to slow them down. You could attempt to use a mouse trap near one of their known subterranean exits, but be sure to bait it with fruit since voles primarily eat vegetation and sweet fruits. If that does not work, check with your pest control specialist to see what else you can use.


To make things even more confusing, shrews also look like mice because of their soft, gray furry bodies. One of the most common types of shrews in the U.S., the northern short-tailed shrew, has a short tail but a face that looks a lot like a mole's. This causes these mammals to be confused with their mole cousins. If you catch sight of something darting away from you, try to notice the color and the tail, both of which will tell you what you are dealing with. Simply put, if it is gray with a short, stubby tail it is a shrew. If it is black with almost no tail or no tail at all, it is a mole. Live rodent traps or sticky paper traps may be more successful in trying to eliminate these mammalian pests.

For more information on pest control, check with companies like Eagle Pest Eliminators.