Learn More About Common Rodents In DC, Maryland & Northern VA

What are rodents?

As a group, rodents are among the most successful mammals on Earth. A large portion of this success is due to their high adaptability. Rodents have been able to colonize many different types of environments around the planet. When conditions are favorable, rodents can reproduce quickly. Rodents can also utilize sophisticated behavior patterns to avoid dangers from predators - people included. Worldwide, the order Rodentia comprises the largest order of mammals.

Commensal rodents can be any type of rodent that lives in close proximity to people. As our habitats have overlapped, many species of rodents have come to somewhat rely on us for food, water, and shelter. Regardless of the shape, size, or species, all rodents have front incisors that continue to grow throughout their lives. In order to prevent their teeth from overgrowing and becoming too large, preventing them from eating, rodents must continuously gnaw on wood and other objects inside your home or business.

a norway rat outside of a home in fairfax virginia

Some of the most common species of rodents living throughout Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC are deer mice, house mice, field mice, Norway rats, and voles.

Deer Mice

Adult deer mice are bi-colored and have slightly larger bodies than house mice; the tops of their bodies are darker in color than their underbellies. Their tails are covered in short hairs and are also bi-colored: dark on top and light on bottom. Deer mice also have black eyes, and large ears that are covered in fur.

Field Mice

Field mice have small, stocky bodies that are covered in coarse, chestnut-brown to black fur, and the fur on their underbellies is light gray. They also have blunt noses and short ears. Field mice are known to be prolific breeders and can quickly populate areas that they infest.

House Mice

House mice have oval-shaped bodies that are covered in light brown or gray fur with lighter, cream-colored underbellies. Their tails are the same length or longer than their bodies. They have pointed noses and small ears that are covered in a light layer of fur. Their small size allows them to enter homes or other buildings through spaces only the size of a dime.

Norway Rats

Norway rats (also known as brown rats) have dense, heavy bodies that are covered in shaggy brown or gray fur with black hairs peppered throughout, and tails that are shorter in length than their bodies. Norway rats have poor eyesight and navigate their way from nesting area to food sources using their long whiskers. Additionally, these rats are poor climbers. As such, they may create burrows and tunnels outside, and usually enter buildings at the ground level.

Roof Rats

Roof rats (also known as black rats) get their name because they tend to find shelter on trees, in attics, and on roofs. Able climbers, they are long and thin, with a lighter build than their stockier cousins, the Norway rats, and their tails are slightly longer than their bodies. Roof rats have soft, smooth, fur that is usually brown with spots of black hair mixed in. Their undersides are usually white, gray, or black. Frequently transported on ships, roof rats are common around seaports, but can be found throughout the southern third of the United States. In our area, they are most common near the Port of Baltimore and in Northern Virginia.


Voles have short, stocky bodies covered in brown or black fur, with short legs, small eyes, and ears that are partially hidden from view. They also have short tails that are covered in fur. Rarely found inside, voles are mainly considered to be outdoor pests.

Are rodents dangerous?

Rodents cause damage to property, contaminate food, and spread disease; therefore, rodents are considered to be dangerous pests. Rodents are responsible for spreading such diseases as dysentery, Hantavirus, leptospirosis, and salmonellosis. Their constant chewing on objects causes expensive structural damage inside of homes, as well as damage to personal items like clothing and furniture. Outside, rodents will destroy crops, gardens, and lawns, and can even cause damage to cars and lawnmowers.

Why do I have a rodent problem?

Rodents are very adaptable pests, and can make themselves at home on any rural, suburban or urban property that provides them with food, water, and shelter. Once living comfortably and successfully on your property, it is very common for them to enter your home while foraging for food. In the late fall season, rodents can become an even bigger issue for homeowners as this is the time of year when these rodents are looking to move inside and take advantage of a temperature-controlled environment to live in during the colder winter months.

Where will I find rodents?

Rodents live in a wide range of outdoor habitats but can also be found living very comfortably indoors. The house mouse, as its name suggests, is a species of rodent that is often found living inside of homes and other buildings. Other species of rodents, such as voles, are rarely found living indoors. Outside, rodents live in fields, gardens, tall grasses, underground burrows, woodpiles, and dense landscaping. Rodents that decide to build indoor nests usually do so in secluded locations near food sources. Areas behind large appliances and walls, in crawl spaces, under floors, and under sinks all make suitable rodent nesting spots.

How do I get rid of rodents?

If rodents have become a problem in your home or on your property, it is best to seek the help of a pest control professional. When you partner with the licensed experts here at Miche Pest Control, you will have the peace of mind to know that your entire rodent infestation will be eliminated. Our friendly, highly trained professionals use effective and modern pest control methods and products to control rodents and other common household pests living in and around your home or business. To learn more about our exceptional rodent control services throughout our service areas in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., contact Miche Pest Control today!

How can I prevent rodents in the future?

Preventing problems with rodents is difficult, but we want to help you guard your property against rodents by offering these helpful prevention tips:

  • Remove excess debris such as fallen trees, woodpiles, and tree stumps from your property that they can hide and nest in.

  • Place tight-fitting covers over vents, and seal spaces around utilities entering into your home.

  • Trim back tree branches away from the exterior of your property.

  • Keep outdoor eating areas clean and free of food debris.

  • Maintain garden areas by picking up fallen fruits and vegetables.

  • Eliminate food sources by placing tight-fitting or locking lids on outdoor trash cans and compost bins.

  • Keep them out of your home by inspecting the foundation, exterior walls, and roofline of your property and sealing entry points.

What Economic Impact Do Rodents Have?

Surprisingly, commensal rodents are significantly detrimental and highly beneficial for people. As pests, rodents compete for and contaminate food and other resources, damage buildings and infrastructure, and threaten public health. As test mammals in global medical research and experimentation, mice and rats have contributed greatly to the long term survival of humankind.

Loss & Destruction Of Food

While it is difficult to measure the total amount of food consumed or contaminated by rodents on a global scale, it has been repeatedly estimated that somewhere between 20% and 33% of the world's food supply never reaches the table due specifically to losses from rodents. In some parts of the world, entire crops have been lost to rodents during particularly bad outbreaks. Beyond the losses due to rodents consuming crops and food, rodent contamination of food is a wide-scale problem.

Damage To Buildings And Infrastructure

In general, most of the damage inflicted by rodents to buildings and items are from their gnawing and burrowing activities. The word rodent originated from the French word rodere, which means "to gnaw." Rodents use their powerful front incisor teeth to gnaw on a wide range of items and objects. Rodent incisors grow continuously at a rate of up to 0.4 mm per day. The growth of rodents' incisors is kept in check by the rodents grinding their teeth together as they gnaw constantly on all sorts of materials. Rodent incisors are harder than iron and several other types of metal. Through their gnawing, rodents inflict significant damage to structures, equipment, furniture, utilities, and vehicles. With our increased reliability on technology and machinery, people are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the gnawing activities of rodents. The damage to just one wire can have extreme consequences. Because of their gnawing damage to wires, pipes, gas lines, and the like, rodent infestations hold the potential for serious damage due to fires and explosions. Rodents have been known to cause fires by gnawing wires and causing short-circuits, and they have also been known to carry matches to their nests (which are frequently made of flammable materials), and light the match on fire by gnawing on it.


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