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  • Writer's pictureJon Stoddard

How to Identify Different Pest Poop


Cartoon Poop Image

There are many kinds of house pests that will invade your home at any given time, especially in Florida. They can range from major pests such as venomous snakes, lizards, and large wildlife to small pests such as bed bugs, cockroaches, rats, mice, and termites. Any suspicious dropping found nowadays can usually be solved easily by an online search or this Imperial Pest Prevention blog post. The easiest way to identify a pest is obviously through the identification of the actual invader, but they are not always able to be seen. If these hidden pests are unknown, you are not out of luck! Another way they can be identified is through the droppings/poop surprises they leave behind! Follow this simple pest control blog post to see how you can find out who may be leaving behind these nasty presents in your household.

Identifying what kind of pest you have in your house or business will help you know what you are dealing with and what measures you can take to protect pets, yourself, and loved ones as a homeowner. It is also important to not be too proud and hire a pest control professional such as Imperial Pest Prevention, as we have all of the necessary equipment, tools, and experience in tracking down and handling these pests as they are typically evasive, nocturnal, and stay hidden.

These are some brief descriptions of the kinds of excrement that common Florida pests leave behind:

Lizard

Anole Lizard

Lizards can be a common house pest in Florida. Lizards are considered to be a beneficial house pest as they are a natural source of pest control. They will readily feed on cockroaches, mosquitos, swarmer termites, and other small insects that frequent the surroundings of houses and businesses. One problem is many times, lizard droppings can be misidentified as rat droppings as they look fairly similar, except for a distinguished difference: the white tip at the end of the lizard dropping vs. the lack of one on a rat's excrement, the white on the lizard waste is actually dried uric acid crystals from their urine. Lizards urinate and excrete feces from one body cavity called the cloaca. Because of this, it gives the lizard's dropping the appearance of a rat dropping but will also contain that hard white attachment of the end distinguishing it from a rat.


What Does Lizard Poop Look Like?

lizard poop / feces closeup image

Lizard poop, like the feces of many animals, can vary slightly in appearance based on the species of lizard, its diet, and its health. However, there are some general characteristics that you can look for:

  • Shape and Size: Lizard poop is usually elongated or pellet-like. The size can vary depending on the size of the lizard. For instance, the droppings of a tiny house gecko will be much smaller than those of a large monitor lizard.

  • Color: The feces part of lizard poop is typically brown or black. The exact shade can be influenced by the lizard's diet.

  • White Part: Often, you'll notice a white or off-white portion attached to the brown/black part. This is the urate, which is essentially the lizard's version of urine. Instead of excreting liquid urine like mammals, many reptiles expel uric acid, which comes out solid or semi-solid. This is a key feature distinguishing reptile droppings from those of many other animals.

  • Consistency: Fresh lizard poop can be soft, especially if the lizard has a diet high in moisture. As it dries, it will become harder.

  • Location: You're more likely to encounter lizard droppings near places where lizards hang out: on walls, near light sources (which attract the insects they eat), or in and around their habitats if you're looking in a domestic setting.

If you're trying to identify lizard poop in your surroundings, these characteristics should help. However, remember that other small animals might leave droppings with some similarities, so it's essential to consider reading further down the list of this article.


Roof rat

The black rat (Rattus rattus), also known as ship rat, roof rat

Because we immediately discussed the lizard and the dropping, I thought the roof rat would be the next best one, as the droppings from the roof rat are the ones that someone does not want to hear. Most people would take the news of the lizard excrement any day of the week over the rat. Roof rats are extremely common in Florida. Whether we have extreme heat in the summer, mild spring, or winter, cooler weather, and rodents go hand in hand. Most commonly, roof rats will readily nest in the attic and higher parts of homes and structures. "Roof rats in the adult form are 12-14 inches long and are very agile. They have a sleek, muscular, athletic build and tend to be dark gray to blackish in color with a lighter gray tone on the underbelly. This species also has a pointed nose with a large tail in comparison to its head and body" (quoted from our previous rodent blog post titled "cooler weather and rodents").

Roof Rat droppings are visible torpedo-shaped and produce around 40 to 50 droppings daily, up to 3/4" long and 1/4" inch in diameter. For more detailed information, click on our Imperial Pest Prevention YouTube video "All About Rats" for more detailed information.


What Does Roof Rat Poop Look Like?

Close-up on rat feces, poop, droppings excreted on glue trap

Roof rat poop, or droppings, has some distinctive characteristics that can help in identifying it:

  • Shape: The droppings of roof rats are spindle-shaped with pointed ends. This is a bit different from the droppings of Norway rats, which are more capsule-shaped and have blunt ends.

  • Size: Roof rat droppings are typically about 0.5 inches (12.7 mm) long. They are generally larger than mouse droppings, which are usually about 0.25 inches (6.35 mm) or less in length.

  • Color: When fresh, the droppings are dark in color. Over time, they fade to a lighter gray or tan.

  • Consistency: Roof rat droppings are solid, but they might be a bit softer when they are very fresh.

  • Distribution: Roof rats, being climbers, tend to leave their droppings in elevated areas such as attics, along rooflines, or in trees. Finding droppings in these locations can be a clue that you're dealing with roof rats.

If you suspect you have a rat infestation, it's important to consult with a pest control expert, as rats can spread diseases and cause structural damage to buildings.



Norway Rats

Brown rat (Rattus norvegicus) walking in grass on bank

The Norway rat is the other species we commonly have here in Florida. This rodent tends to be a little fuller-bodied and larger in size. They have smaller heads and larger ears and tend to prefer to be close to water locations such as canals, dunes, sewers, vegetation near rivers, boat docks, etc. For this reason, when a homeowner typically encounters these pests, they find them under a home’s crawlspace or passing up to living areas of the home from pipes or access points. just like the roof rat, this rodent will also gnaw, cause damage, and pose health risks, which will also be discussed further. The droppings from this rodent are also dark in color but typically have a more spindled shape than the torpedo shape from the roof rat.

The information from this section is from our previous Imperial Pest Prevention blog post titled “Port Orange, Fl. Rodent Outbreak”.


What Does Norway Rat Poop Look Like?

Norway Rat Poop / Feces Image

Norway rat poop, or droppings, also has specific characteristics that can help distinguish it:

  • Shape: Norway rat droppings are typically capsule-shaped with blunt ends, unlike the pointed ends seen in roof rat droppings.

  • Size: They are relatively large compared to other common rodents' droppings. Norway rat droppings are usually about 0.75 inches (around 19 mm) long.

  • Color: Fresh droppings from Norway rats are dark in color, often appearing black. As they age, they fade to a lighter brown or gray.

  • Consistency: Like roof rat droppings, those of the Norway rat are solid. Fresh droppings may be slightly softer, but they harden over time.

  • Distribution: Norway rats are ground dwellers, so their droppings are often found in basements, on ground floors, or in other lower areas of buildings. Their presence can indicate regular pathways or nesting areas.

Just as with roof rats, if you believe you have an infestation of Norway rats, it's crucial to consult with a pest control professional. Rats can be carriers of various diseases, and their constant gnawing can cause significant damage to structures, wires, and other materials.



Cockroaches

Cockroach — Photo

Cockroaches are also extremely common household pests that invade Florida homes yearly. Cockroaches are responsible for a wide array of bacterial diseases and pathogens and can cause allergens. If you suspect cockroaches in your home, contact a pest control company such as Imperial Pest Prevention to quickly irradicate these pests and protect your loved ones and your family's health.

Cockroaches have round and dark excrement that resembles ground coffee or ground pepper. Some of the larger cockroach species have much larger black or brown cylindrical-shaped droppings. Once an infestation is present, the waste of the Cockroaches will give off a distinct sweet/ sour smell that is very pronounced and distinct.


What Does Cockroach Poop Look Like?

cockroach poop images closeup with ruler

Cockroach feces, often referred to as droppings or frass, can vary in appearance depending on the species of cockroach and its size. However, they tend to have some common characteristics:

  • Appearance: Cockroach droppings are typically small, cylindrical, and have ridges running from end to end. They can sometimes be mistaken for coffee grounds or black pepper when scattered on surfaces.

  • Size: The droppings' size varies with the cockroach's size. For instance, larger roaches like the American cockroach produce larger droppings, while smaller species, such as the German ones, produce much smaller droppings, akin to a speck or a dot.

  • Color: The droppings are usually dark brown to black. The color can give some clue about the freshness of the feces, with darker shades indicating older droppings.

  • Texture: When fresh, cockroach droppings might be slightly moist but will dry out over time, becoming hard.

  • Location: You'll typically find cockroach droppings in areas where the roaches frequent or hide. Common locations include kitchen cabinets, behind appliances, cracks and crevices, near food sources, and in other secluded areas.

Regularly spotting these droppings in your home is a tell-tale sign of a cockroach infestation, and taking appropriate measures for control and prevention is recommended. Additionally, it's worth noting that cockroach feces can exacerbate allergies and asthma, so it's essential to clean up any droppings promptly and thoroughly.



Dywood Termites

Macro termites are walking on the logs. — Photo

There are two species of termites that are most common in Florida: Subterranean Termites and Drywood Termites. Both are silent, hidden destroyers. Only one will leave visible droppings, though. Can you guess which one? If you guessed Drywood Termites, you are correct.

Drywood termites live in structures and will feed on food from furniture, rafters, walls, etc. They do not discriminate. They can be indoors or outside of the home. After consuming the cellulose in the wood, they leave behind small six-sided concave pellets known as frass, which vary in color depending on the type of wood they feed upon. Frass is usually first discovered by a homeowner as what appears to be sawdust or coffee ground droppings that, once cleaned, appear to return in a matter of a few days as Drywood termites push their droppings out from exit holes in the structure to keep their tunnels clean and accessible.


What Does Drywood Termite Poop Look Like?

Termite droppings on bark

Drywood termite feces, often referred to as "frass" or pellets, have a distinctive appearance that can help identify their presence in homes or wooden structures.

  • Appearance: Drywood termite feces are typically in the form of tiny, hexagonal pellets.

  • Size: The pellets are very small, often around 1mm long.

  • Color: The color of these pellets can vary, depending largely on the type of wood the termites are consuming. They can range from light tan to dark brown.

  • Texture: Dry to the touch, the pellets have a gritty texture.

  • Location: Drywood termites create "kick-out holes" in the wood they infest. They use these holes to push out their fecal pellets, so you'll often find small piles of these pellets beneath or near these holes. Finding such piles can be a key sign of a drywood termite infestation.

Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites live entirely within the wood they are consuming, so spotting their fecal pellets can be one of the few visible signs of their presence. If you find what you suspect to be termite frass in your home or on your property, it's a good idea to consult with a pest control expert to determine the best course of action.



Bed Bugs

Cimex hemipterus — Photo

Per our Imperial Pest Prevention Blog Post "How to Avoid Bed Bugs," Bed bugs are usually reddish-brown, flat, small, and oval-shaped. Typically the size of an apple seed, adults are roughly ¼ inch long and have six legs and antennae. Juvenile Bed bugs, known as nymphs, differ from adults in that they are often much smaller (1 millimeter) and may appear clear or tan in color.

Bugs are difficult to spot in a home. Due to their small stature size, they often go unnoticed until a bigger problem presents itself, such as an infestation. If you suspect bed bugs in your home, hiring a bed bug exterminator is highly recommended ASAP. Bed Bugs spread at a rapid rate, and the longer you wait, the more involved treatments can be. Bed bug droppings appear as tiny blood-splattered spots. This fecal matter is digested blood from the bed bug feeding on its host and appears dark reddish-brown. Bed bug droppings are mostly found in mattress seams, tufts, box springs, and adjacent locations where the host lays dormant, such as curtains, sheets, and furniture.


What Does Bed Bug Poop Look Like?

Bed Bug Poop Closeup on a wooden frame

Bed bug feces have a distinctive appearance that can help individuals identify an infestation:

  1. Appearance: Bed bug feces look like tiny dark spots or streaks. They are essentially digested blood, so the consistency and appearance are a bit like a small ink dot or a smudge.

  2. Size: The fecal spots are very small, typically about the size of a dot made by a pen.

  3. Color: They are usually dark brown or black.

  4. Texture: When fresh, bed bug feces might be slightly raised or smeared on fabrics. Over time, they'll dry and may be a bit harder to remove, especially from porous surfaces like mattresses and sheets.

  5. Location: Bed bug feces are commonly found wherever the bed bugs hide and feed. Common locations include:

    • Mattresses, especially along the seams and ridges.

    • Box springs and bed frames.

    • On sheets, pillows, and bedding.

    • Behind baseboards, wallpaper, and picture frames.

    • In and around furniture, especially upholstered ones.


If you see dark spots that you suspect to be bed bug feces, it's also a good idea to look for other signs of an infestation, such as live bugs, shed skins, and tiny white eggs. Finding these signs would confirm the presence of bed bugs. If there's an infestation, it's advisable to consult with a pest control expert to determine the best course of action, as bed bugs can be notoriously difficult to eliminate on your own.



Snakes

Easter Diamonback Rattlesnake

Of all the pests, this is the least favorite; well, maybe the Bed Bug takes the cake; however, one wrong snake in the house can be fatal! Snakes will readily feed on small animals, rats, birds, and lizards. Here in Florida, we have a variety. Per our previous Imperial Pest Prevention Blog post (As Summer Temperatures Are Upon Us, So are The Snakes!), "Although many snakes are harmless, many can also be venomous. No one wants to get close enough to make that determination, nor should anyone. Here in Florida, snakes are abundant and can pose a life-threatening danger to homeowners, their pets, and families. That is correct; one bite from the wrong snake can end fatally for anyone".

Snakes love to inhabit shrubs, grass, gardens, and vegetation. We at Imperial Pest Prevention recommend any homeowner utilize our Snake Repellent Services to protect their family and pests.

Snake droppings are usually not seen so often but, for the most part, are smooth and very soft with not much structure, almost mush-like. Some droppings may contain visible bones and fur, depending on their diet. Snake feces is usually dark brown in color and lightens as it dries.


What Does Snake Poop Look Like?

snake poop closeup of a python

Snake poop is not always immediately distinguishable from the feces of some other small animals, but there are a few characteristics that might help you identify it:

  • Appearance: Snake feces are typically brown or black, though the exact shade can vary based on the snake's diet.

  • Consistency: It can range from soft and mushy to more firm, much like the feces of many animals. The consistency will depend on the snake's diet and how recently it has eaten.

  • Uric Acid: You might see a white, chalky substance along with the brownish fecal matter. This is uric acid, a waste product snakes produce instead of urine. In birds, this is referred to as "urate". The presence of this white substance is a strong indicator that you're looking at snake feces.

  • Contents: Depending on the species of snake and its diet, you might find evidence of the snake's prey in the feces. For instance, if the snake eats rodents, there might be fur present in the feces. If the snake consumes insects, you might find bits of exoskeleton.

  • Shape and Size: The shape of the feces can be long and thin, similar to the shape of the snake. The size of the feces will vary depending on the size of the snake; larger snakes produce larger feces, and vice versa.

  • Location: If you find feces inside a shed snake skin or near a hiding spot (like under a rock or log), it's more likely to be snake poop.

Remember, the best way to be certain would be to observe the animal in the act, but these guidelines should give you a good starting point for identification.


Professional Pest Control Company To The Rescue

Pest Identification can be extremely daunting to a homeowner. If you discover droppings in your home, a pest control company such as Imperial Pest Prevention is always recommended. We have expert staff trained to identify, offer treatment options, educate consumers, and protect your family, pets, and loved ones. Call us at (386) 956-9506. Imperial Pest Prevention is a brand name you know and trust! We proudly offer our pest control services to St. Augustine, Palm Coast, Flagler Beach, Ormond Beach, Holly Hill, Daytona Beach, Port Orange, New Smyrna Beach, Edgewater, Oak Hill, Deland, Orange City, Deltona, Debary, Lake Helen, Sanford, and East Orlando of Florida.


This blog post was revised on October 4, 2023, to incorporate enhanced descriptions and detailed identification of feces from various animals and pests, enhancing its credibility and depth.

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