Pest Identification: Types of Rodents in Tennessee

Did you know that 45% of all mammals are actually rodents? If you’ve ever had a rodent infestation, perhaps that doesn’t come as a big surprise; these furry pests are all too common to encounter inside Tennessee homes and businesses. Aside from the significant health concerns that disease-carrying rodents can pose, they’re also notorious gnawers that can cause property damage. In fact, their name is derived from the Latin meaning “to gnaw.” That’s because their two upper and lower teeth never stop growing longer—requiring rodents to wear them down by chewing on things. 

At U.S. Pest Protection, our team of pest control technicians has experience eliminating rodents in homes and commercial spaces around Tennessee. Whether you have rats on your roof or a mouse about your house, our pest control programs can protect your space on a monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly basis by helping remove rodents and prevent them from returning.

Discover more about the most common types of mice and rats in Tennessee:


House Mouse

The house mouse originated in Asia and was transported to America in the mid-15th century. Appropriately named, the house mouse is likely to be spotted in your home or dwelling. These rodents can exist anywhere humans live and are known to adapt and thrive wherever we are. Aside from humans, rodents are the most populous mammal on the planet. 

Identifying features of house mice include:

  • Dark-gray fur on backs with lighter fur on bellies 
  • Weigh about 1 ounce
  • Very large ears
  • Naked tail 

In some instances, the house mouse will spend its entire life inside of one building and never see the outdoors. Their nests are typically found near food sources and warm areas inside of closets and wall voids or even bookshelves. House mice become extremely familiar with their territory as they scavenge for food, taking the same paths all day along walls and flat surfaces. 

Deer Mouse

Another rodent that can be common in households is the deer mouse. In Tennessee, the two types of deer mice typically seen are white-footed deer mice and cotton deer mice, which look virtually identical. 

Identifying features of deer mice include:

  • 5 to 8 inches long
  • Brown or dark-colored with white feet and bellies 
  • Large eyes relative to their bodies 

Deer mice can be found in most places throughout Tennessee. During warmer weather, the rodents tend to live and take shelter outdoors near trees, logs, rocks, or leaf litter. They also hunt for insects, nuts, seeds, and berries when the weather allows. However, colder weather in the winter can send them scuttling into your home or garage for shelter and warmth (not to mention plenty of food sources). As with other rodent species, deer mice may carry and transmit dangerous illnesses, such as hantavirus and Lyme disease—presenting a risk to those who come in contact with them.

Norway Rat

Also referred to as a house rat or sewer rat, Norway rats originated in Mongolia and first came to the United States in the 1700s. Today, they’re the most populated rat group in the nation. 

Identifying features of Norway rats include:

  • Stocky body weighing up to 1 pound 
  • Blunt nose 
  • Extremely small ears 
  • Scaly tail 

To tell the difference between a Norway rat and a roof rat, simply pull the tail over its head; if it doesn’t go past its ears, then you’re looking at a Norway rat. (OK, or you could just call us to come do that for you.) 

Norway rats live in colonies outside and in burrows under the earth including crawlspaces and basements. On farms, they live in buildings and silos, and in cities, they live in the ground when space is available. The Norway rat may also spend its entire life inside of one building, never even venturing outside. Most adult Norway rats can happily survive on trash or any food scraps that are available. 

Roof Rat

The roof rat originates in Asia, having come to Florida in the 1500s. Since then, this rat has spread to the entire U.S. but is primarily prevalent in southern states. 

Identifying features of roof rats include:

  • Body 6 to 8 inches long
  • Tail longer than body 
  • Black or dark-gray in color with white bellies
  • Weigh about a half-pound 

Roof rats are a bit unique in that they do not have an appetite for human food but will feed on it if it is available. These rodents prefer to be in vegetation and landscaping instead of inside a structure. They are also extremely skittish rats that will vacate the premises if their nest is disturbed. Their nests can be found in the tops of palm trees or in roof lines and attics, and you may see them running on utility lines into structures. 

Eliminate and Prevent Rodents in Tennessee

If you’ve already heard or seen some mice and rats around your property, there are usually more hiding behind the scenes. If preventative measures and snap traps don’t get rid of rodents, have one of our professional pest control inspectors come by and inspect your space at no charge. If you’re certain you have rodents in your home or business, you can schedule and purchase pest control online anytime!






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