Common Rodents in Arizona and What to Do About Them

brown rat (norway rat) on the ground

Discovering small, dark, rice-like droppings indoors or spotting holes in your yard can signal the presence of rodents. But which furry critter is making itself at home? Identify common rodents in Arizona and learn what to do about them. 

Before you go all cowboy on these critters, let’s wrangle up some knowledge about them. Distinguish between rats, mice, and voles by their appearance and behavior. Saddle up for some do-it-yourself action, from traps to bait stations. And if the situation gets as wild as a bull in a china shop it’s time to call in the professionals. 

Don’t let rodents ruffle your feathers: learn preventive measures to keep these pests away from your home. 

Common Rodents of Arizona 

In the arid landscapes of Arizona, there are as many rodents as coyotes. From the big Norway rats to the often overlooked voles, each presents its own set of challenges. Learning their distinctive traits and behaviors gives you the knowledge to deal with their presence.

House Mice

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Take a closer look at one of the most common types of mice found in Arizona: the house mouse. These tiny yet tenacious creatures are adept at infiltrating homes seeking warmth, shelter, and a readily available food supply.


House mice, one of the common rodents found throughout Arizona, are small and slender creatures. They have slightly pointy noses, small black eyes, and big ears that seem to stand out because of their sparse covering of hair. 

Typically, they are light brown to gray. Adults measure around 5 to 7 inches in length, including their 3 to 4-inch tail, which is almost hairless. They weigh half an ounce.


House mice make nests out of finely shredded paper or other fibrous materials, often tucked away in quiet corners like old storage containers, drawers, floors, or even within the walls. You might notice a distinctive musky odor lingering around.

House mice like to seek refuge and food in homes and outbuildings across Arizona. They can slip into buildings through openings as small as a dime (0.25 inches).

Being nocturnal, house mice are most active when the lights go out. However, don’t be surprised if you catch a glimpse of them during the day too. 

Signs of Infestation

Here are some common signs of a house mouse infestation:

  • Sightings: Although more commonly active in the evening, it is possible to see a house mouse during the day.
  • Droppings: Small pellets anywhere the animals have visited or traveled. Approximately 3 to 6 mm long, the droppings look like black grains of rice with pointed ends.
  • Gnawing: Evidence of gnawing or chewing on various materials such as wood, paper, or wiring.
  • Nests: Shredded materials like paper, fabric, or insulation used to construct nests in hidden or secluded areas.
  • Sounds: Nocturnal noises such as scratching, squeaking, or scampering coming from walls, ceilings, or floorboards.
  • Odor: A musky, ammonia-like smell may indicate the presence of mouse urine or feces, particularly in enclosed spaces or areas with poor ventilation.

Field Mice (Deer Mice)

deer mouse sitting on soil
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Field mice, also known as deer mice, make their homes in various habitats like forests, grasslands, scrublands, and even agricultural lands.


If you spot a deer mouse, you’ll notice their larger eyes and a striking white underside, making them quite distinct. Their backs are dark colors, while their bellies are white. Their tails are moderately furred, light on the bottom, and darker on top.


When it comes to making a nest, deer mice are resourceful. They gather stems, twigs, leaves, and grassroots, along with other bits and bobs of fibrous material. You can find these nests in all sorts of places, from tree hollows to the undersides of rocks and logs. Sometimes, they’ll even repurpose abandoned nests from squirrels or birds or find shelter in buildings.

Deer mice are nocturnal, preferring to do their exploring and scavenging when the sun goes down. During the day, you’ll find them in their nests. While they don’t exactly hibernate, they enter a sort of dormancy called torpidity. During the winter, they often huddle together in family groups to keep warm.

Signs of Infestation

Here are some common signs that you may be dealing with a deer mice infestation:

  • Droppings: Small, dark feces on kitchen floors and near baseboards.
  • Gnaw items: They are notorious for gnawing through food packaging to access food. They also leave gnaw marks on wood, fabric, and plastic. 
  • Nests: Field mice construct nests in dark, secluded areas of your home, like mattresses. 

Roof Rats

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Roof rats, also known as black rats or ship rats, are the daredevils of the rodent world, with a penchant for heights that lead them straight to your roof and attic.


They have sleek and slender bodies. Large eyes, prominent ears, and a pointy nose. Their brown fur has intermixed black patches, while their undersides showcase shades of white, gray, or black. 

Adults measure between 6 to 8 inches in head and body length, with tails measuring 7 to 10 inches, giving them a total length that can exceed 16 inches. Despite their slender appearance, they can weigh anywhere from 5 to 9 ounces on average, with some hefty individuals tipping the scales at 12 ounces.


Roof rats are aptly named for their preference for heights. They frequently travel along power lines, tree limbs, and downspouts, eventually finding their way into attics. Their agility and fondness for elevated spaces pose a significant challenge in keeping them out of your home. 

Signs of Infestation

Here are the signs that indicate you may have roof rats in your home:

  • Droppings: Look for dark, capsule-shaped droppings, typically about half inches long with pointed ends, scattered around food storage areas, along baseboards, and in attic spaces.
  • Gnaw marks: Check for chew marks on wood, plastic, or wiring, especially in attics, along rooflines, and near entry points.
  • Grease marks: Look for greasy smudges along walls and baseboards, which are left behind as rats navigate through narrow passages.
  • Scratching noises: Listen for scratching or scurrying sounds coming from walls, ceilings, or attic spaces, especially at night when rodents are most active.
  • Nesting materials: Keep an eye out for shredded paper, fabric, or plant matter, which roof rats use to build nests in the insulation of your home in areas like attics and walls.
  • Visible rats or scurrying movement: If you spot rats running on tree limbs, roofs or power lines, it may indicate an infestation. 
  • Fruit or nut damage: Look for partially eaten fruit or nuts in your yard or around bird feeders, as roof rats are known to feed on these items and may carry them into your home.
  • Pet behavior: Pay attention to your pets’ behavior, as they may exhibit interest in certain areas of the home where rodents are present.

Norway Rats

a norway rat sitting on a barrel
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The Norway rat is a common type of rat in Arizona. Also known as brown rats, grey rats, or sewer rats, discover its characteristics. 


Norway rats have blunt noses and small, close-set bald ears. They are typically dark grey or brown on their backs and light grey or brown on their undersides. 

These rodents can grow quite large, with body lengths reaching up to 10 inches, matched by their tails. Their tails, which lack fur, can be either pink or brown. Adult males weigh around 19 ounces, while females weigh approximately 12 ounces.


Norway rats are nocturnal. While they are proficient swimmers, they’re not the best climbers, relying more on their digging prowess. This allows them to create extensive burrow systems, where they often reside in underground locations such as sewers and cellars.

Signs of Infestation

Here are the signs that indicate you may have Norway rats in your home:

  • Droppings: Look for larger, blunt-ended, oval-shaped droppings, typically about three-quarter inches long, found in concentrated areas such as along walls, in basements, or near food sources.
  • Gnaw marks: Check for chew marks on wood, plastic, or wiring, typically with rough, irregular edges. 
  • Nesting materials: Keep an eye out for shredded paper, cloth, or other fibrous materials, which Norway rats use to construct nests in hidden, secluded areas like burrows, basements, or crawl spaces.
  • Grease marks: Look for greasy smudges along walls and baseboards, particularly in areas where rats frequently travel, as these marks are left behind by the rats’ oily fur.
  • Burrows: Norway rats are adept at digging burrows in outdoor areas like gardens, under sheds, or near foundations. Look for openings roughly 2 to 4 inches in diameter.
  • Food damage: Norway rats are omnivorous and will feed on a wide variety of food items, including grains, fruits, vegetables, and even pet food. Check for chewed packaging, gnaw marks on stored food, or partially eaten items.
  • Pet behavior: Pay attention to your pet’s behavior, as they may exhibit signs of agitation, alertness, or even attempts to chase or catch rats, particularly in areas where rodents are active.

Pack Rats (Woodrats)

a pack rat sitting near a stainless steel tray
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The pack rats also known as woodrats are the most common rodents found in the Arizona desert. They like collecting and hoarding shiny objects and natural materials. While their habits may seem endearing at first glance, pack rats can become a nuisance when they invade homes and structures, causing damage to property and creating unsanitary conditions. 


Pack rats typically weigh between 7 to 21 ounces and measure 13 to 17 inches in length from nose to tail tip. Their fur varies in color, commonly ranging from light brown to gray, with a white underside extending from the chin to the tail and including the feet. One of their notable features is their long, bushy tail, often grayer than the rest of their body.


Pack rats are skilled nest builders, preferring to construct their shelters in natural environments such as caves, rockslides, crevices, and abandoned man-made structures. They spend much of their time scavenging for interesting objects to collect and hoard within their nests. Some of these items are consumed while others are kept as treasures or used to fortify the nest walls.

A unique behavior of pack rats is their habit of urinating on everything within their nests to mark territory and assert ownership. Over time, this urine crystallizes, cementing objects in place and contributing to the structural integrity of the nest.

Pack rat’s nests can harbor parasitic mites, ticks, fleas, and other ectoparasites that pose risks to human health. Additionally, these rodents may occasionally feed on garden and landscape plants, causing damage, and in rare instances, they may chew on vehicle wiring and cause structural damage to homes. 

Signs of Infestation

Here are the signs that indicate you may have pack rats on your property:

  • Nests: Pack rats build large, conspicuous nests made of twigs, branches, leaves, and other debris. These nests can often be found in trees, shrubs, woodpiles, or even in abandoned structures like sheds or vehicles.
  • Collection of shiny objects: Pack rats have a unique behavior of collecting shiny or colorful objects to decorate their nests. Look for piles of small objects such as coins, bottle caps, jewelry, or other miscellaneous shiny items near their nests.
  • Gnaw marks: Check for gnaw marks on wooden structures, wiring, plastic pipes, and other materials. Unlike other rodents, pack rats have a preference for gnawing on softer materials like wood, which may leave distinct markings.
  • Droppings: Pack rat droppings are typically smaller and darker than those of Norway rats, and they may be found scattered near their nests or along their travel paths.
  • Visual sightings: While pack rats are primarily nocturnal and tend to avoid human interaction, you may occasionally spot them, especially during the early morning or evening hours, as they forage for food or materials for their nests.
  • Pet behavior: Pay attention to your pet’s behavior, as they may exhibit signs or attempts to chase or catch pack rats.


vole sitting on ground and eating
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Explore the characteristics of voles. This pint-sized rodent can destroy your Arizona’s gardens and landscapes. Despite their small size, voles are proficient tunnelers and prolific breeders, making them a formidable foe for gardeners.


Voles are chestnut-brown hue with black intermingled, while their underparts take on a dark gray shade. Their tails are short and furry, going from dark to light. With their compact bodies, short legs, and tiny eyes, they have a round face with a blunt nose. Grown-up voles can be around 5 to 7 inches long, including their tails, and weigh up to 16 ounces.


Voles are like architects underground. They make their homes in open areas near houses, like gardens and lawns. They dig tunnels underground, making a space to live. They spend most of their time there, moving through the tunnels they’ve dug. These tunnels are about 1.5 to 2 inches wide. They don’t climb, so you won’t usually find them in homes. They prefer to stay close to their tunnels.

Signs of Infestation

Here are the signs that indicate you may have voles on your property:

  • Surface runways: Voles create shallow, surface runways in grassy areas, gardens, or under snow cover. These runways are typically about 1 to 2 inches wide and result from repeated passage of voles as they forage for food.
  • Tunnels: Voles also dig underground tunnels, which they use for shelter and protection from predators. Look for small openings in the ground, often hidden beneath vegetation or debris, that lead to vole tunnels.
  • Gnaw marks on vegetation: Voles are herbivores and feed on a variety of plants, including grasses, roots, bulbs, and garden crops. Check for gnaw marks or chewed vegetation near the base of plants or along the edges of garden beds.
  • Spongy soil: Voles can construct deep tunnels up to 12 inches underground. They can also prefer shallow passages. When traversing the soil above these tunnels, you may notice a slightly spongy sensation underfoot.
  • Droppings: Vole droppings are small, cylindrical pellets, similar in appearance to mouse droppings but slightly larger. They are often found along vole runways or near feeding areas.
  • Damage to trees and shrubs: Voles may girdle the bark of trees and shrubs, especially in winter when other food sources are scarce. Look for chew marks and gnawing damage near the base of trees or on lower branches.
  • Visible holes: Voles may create small burrow openings in the ground, typically about 1 to 2 inches in diameter. These holes may be scattered throughout the lawn or garden and are often hidden beneath vegetation or mulch.
  • Frequent sightings: While voles are primarily active at night, you may occasionally spot them during the day, especially in areas with high vole populations or where habitat conditions are favorable.

How to Remove Rodents in Your Home in Arizona

When dealing with rodents invading your home in Arizona, knowing the right strategies can make all the difference. Explore a range of effective methods for rodent control, from DIY solutions such as traps and bait stations to know when it’s time to call in a professional exterminator. 


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When it comes to tackling rodent problems in your Arizona home, traps are among the most commonly used and effective solutions. There are three primary types of traps available: snap traps, electronic traps, and live traps.

  • Snap traps: These traps consist of a spring-loaded mechanism designed to swiftly snap shut when triggered by a rodent. Typically made of wood or plastic, snap traps are baited with food that attracts rodents, and when triggered, the trap delivers a quick and lethal blow, instantly killing the pest.

    Caution: When setting snap traps, it’s crucial to handle them with care to avoid accidental activation. Keep snap traps out of reach of children and pets, and always be mindful of where you position snap traps to minimize the risk of unintended harm to non-target animals.
  • Electronic traps: Modern and humane, electronic traps utilize advanced technology to deliver a quick and humane kill. These traps are equipped with sensors that detect when a rodent enters the device. Upon detection, an electric charge is delivered, quickly and humanely killing the rodent. 

    Caution: While electronic traps offer a more hands-free approach to rodent control, they still pose risks if mishandled. Always use electronic traps according to manufacturer guidelines, ensuring they are placed in areas inaccessible to children and pets. 
  • Live traps: As the name suggests, live traps are designed to capture rodents alive, allowing for their safe removal and relocation. 

    These traps typically consist of a box-like structure with a trigger mechanism that closes the door once the rodent enters. Live traps provide a humane alternative to lethal methods, allowing you to release captured rodents back into the wild away from their property.

    Caution: Although live traps provide a humane alternative to lethal methods, they require careful handling to ensure the safety of both human and captured rodents. 

    When transporting the trap use a towel on it and wear gloves to minimize the risk of bites or scratches. Release the rodent 5 miles away from human habitation. 

Each type of trap has its advantages and considerations, and choosing the right one depends on factors such as the severity of the infestation, personal preferences, and ethical considerations. 

Bait Stations

get rid of rat using bait poison box
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Another method used to eradicate rodents in Arizona homes is the use of bait stations. Bait stations are containers designed to hold rodenticide bait securely, protecting it from exposure to children and pets while allowing rodents access to the toxic bait.

These stations typically consist of durable plastic boxes with entry points that allow rodents to enter and consume the bait. 

Caution: One significant consideration with bait stations is the potential risk of inadvertently harming non-target animals such as squirrels or chipmunks. These animals may also be attracted to the bait inside the stations and can be harmed if they consume it. 

Hire a Rodent Exterminator

When all else fails or when dealing with a severe rodent infestation in your Arizona home, calling a professional rodent exterminator may be the most effective course of action. Rodent exterminators are trained and experienced in identifying rodent entry points, assessing the extent of infestations, and implementing targeted eradication strategies.

How to Remove Rodents in Your Yard in Arizona

If you are dealing with rodent infestation in your yard, it’s essential to take action promptly to prevent potential damage and health risks. Here are four effective methods to deal with rodent infestations outdoors:

Flood Out the Hole

One method to deter rodents from nesting in your property is to flood out their burrows or entry points. This involves pouring water into the holes or tunnels they’ve created, which can encourage them to seek shelter elsewhere. 

Caution:  This approach may put you at risk of coming into contact with the rodents, especially if they become aggressive when forced to evacuate their burrows.

Use Live Traps

animal live catch trap in a garden
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Live traps provide a humane way to capture rodents without causing harm. These traps are designed to lure rodents inside with bait, such as peanut butter or nuts, and then safely contain them until you can release them back into the wild away from your property. Remember to regularly check the traps and release any captured rodents promptly. 

Caution: Handle wild animals in live cages with care. They may urinate or bite when stressed, potentially transmitting diseases. Release the rats at least 5 miles away from your home.

Use Smoke Bombs

When ignited, these devices release smoke and fumes that penetrate into the rodents’ burrows, forcing them to evacuate or suffocate. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and take necessary safety precautions when using smoke bombs. 

Caution: While rodent smoke bombs are effective in the short term, they don’t address the conditions that attract rodents to your home. Their long-term effectiveness is limited, and they won’t prevent future infestations.

By taking proactive steps and using the right methods, you can effectively manage rodent issues and keep your home and property safe and rodent-free. However, if you’re dealing with a severe or persistent rodent infestation, it’s advisable to seek professional help from a rodent exterminator. 

Rodent Prevention Tips for Your House in Arizona

Here are some preventive measures you can use to keep rodents away from your home: 

  • Seal entry points: Rodents can enter your home through small cracks, gaps, or openings in walls, windows, doors, and foundations. Inspect your home for potential entry points and seal them with steel or copper wool and caulk.
  • Keep your home clean and tidy: Clutter and debris provide hiding places and nesting materials for rodents. Keep your home clean and clutter-free. Pay special attention to areas such as basements, attics, and storage areas where rodents are more likely to hide.
  • Store pet food in airtight containers: Rodents are attracted to pet food and can easily access its original bags or containers. Store pet food in airtight containers made of metal or heavy-duty plastic to prevent rodents from accessing it. Clean up any spilled food promptly and avoid leaving pet food out overnight.
  • Take care of your garbage: Garbage and food waste attract rodents looking for an easy meal. Use tightly sealed trash cans with secure lids to prevent rodents from accessing garbage. Additionally, consider using metal or plastic bins with locking lids for added security.
  • Fix water leakages: Rodents need water to survive, so leaking pipes or faucets can attract them to your home. Regularly inspect your plumbing fixtures for leaks and repair any issues promptly. 

By implementing these preventive measures, you can help minimize the risk of rodent infestations in your home and create an environment that is less attractive to these unwanted pests. 

Rodent Prevention Tips for Your Yard in Arizona

person mowing grass in the lawn
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Rodents can be persistent pests, but with proactive measures, you can help prevent them from invading your yard:

  • Maintain your backyard: Rodents often find shelter and food sources in overgrown vegetation, piles of debris, or unkempt yard areas. Keep your backyard well-maintained by trimming bushes and shrubs, mowing the lawn regularly, and removing any piles of debris or clutter. Store firewood, compost bins, and outdoor trash bins away from your home’s exterior to deter rodents from nesting nearby.
  • Safeguard your backyard (Voles): Voles are known to cause damage in backyard areas. To protect your yard from voles, consider installing fences with a portion buried underground to prevent voles from burrowing underneath. Use tree guards around the base of trees and shrubs to prevent voles from gnawing on the bark. Additionally, use bulb baskets when planting bulbs in your garden to deter voles from digging them up.
  • Remove clutter: Rodents thrive in cluttered environments, so keep your yard tidy by removing piles of wood, debris, and overgrown vegetation. 
  • Trim vegetation: Trim tree branches, shrubs, and bushes away from the house to eliminate potential hiding spots and access points for rodents. Maintain a clear space between vegetation and your home’s exterior.
  • Clean up bird feeders: Bird feeders can attract rodents with spilled seeds. Clean up any spilled seed regularly, take the feeder inside your home during the night, and consider using feeders designed to minimize waste.
  • Remove water sources: Make sure to cover your pool, repair any leaking faucets, and inspect irrigation lines regularly. Additionally, monitor your pet’s water bowls closely.
  • Compost carefully: If you have a compost bin, use a fully enclosed bin with a tight-fitting lid. Do not add grease, meat, or dairy products to the compost. To deter rodents from nesting in the bin, keep the compost moist and make sure to turn it regularly.

By implementing these preventive measures, you can help keep rodents away from your yard and reduce the likelihood of them entering your home. 

Rat and Mice Damage and Hazards to People

Rats and mice, despite their small size, can bring significant damage and problems when they infiltrate your home. They are notorious for gnawing on anything they come across, including electrical wires, wooden structures, plastic pipes, and even insulation. 

This behavior can provoke fire hazards due to the exposed wiring and it can also lead to costly repairs and structural damage to the home. Furthermore, their incessant chewing can cause damage to furniture, clothing, and other household items.

Another big concern with rats and mice is their ability to spread diseases. These pests can carry a host of pathogens, bacteria, and viruses that can be transmitted through their urine, feces, and saliva. Common diseases associated with rodents include:

  • Salmonella 
  • Leptospirosis
  • Tapeworms
  • Rat-bite fever
  • Plague
  • Hantavirus
  • Poliomyelitis (polio) 

Voles Damage and Hazards to People

While voles may not pose a direct threat to human health, their presence will certainly damage your backyard landscape. 

Their penchant for digging and tunneling can create runways on lawns, forming pathways of dead grass that detract from the overall appearance of the yard. Additionally, voles have a voracious appetite for plants, bulbs, and tree bark, causing damage to your gardening efforts. 

So, while they may seem harmless, the damage caused by voles’ digging tendencies and dietary habits can significantly impact the beauty of your outdoor space.

FAQ About Rodents

Are mice a problem in Arizona?

Yes, mice are a problem in Arizona, particularly in urban and suburban areas where they can find shelter, food, and water sources in and around homes and buildings. 

Are rats aggressive?

Rats can display aggression, particularly when they feel threatened or cornered. Wild rats, such as Norway rats and roof rats, may exhibit defensive aggression, including biting or vocalizing, to protect themselves or their nests.

How long do wild rats live?

On average, wild rats live for about one to two years in the wild, although their lifespan can vary depending on factors such as predation, availability of food and water, and environmental conditions.

Hire a Pro to Get Rid of Rodents

While encountering rodent issues in your home can be unsettling, there are effective measures to address them. From identifying common rodents in Arizona like Norway rats, roof rats, house mice, field mice, and voles to implementing various control methods such as traps, bait stations, and preventive measures, you can regain control of your living space. 

However, if the situation feels overwhelming, don’t hesitate to reach out to a pest control professional. With their expertise and knack for rodent wrangling, they’ll have your home back to its rodent-free state in no time. 

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Cecilia Acevedo

Cecilia is a writer focused on keeping homes clean and healthy. When not exposing the secrets of home invaders, she digs into the latest pest news, offering practical tips to kick them out. Join Cecilia for straightforward information and advice on dealing with pesky intruders.