What’s the Difference Between a Rat and Mouse?

What’s the Difference Between a Rat and Mouse?


If a rodent were to cross your path, would you be able to tell whether it’s a rat or mouse? While there are some noticeable differences between the two, many of their differences are difficult to notice at first glance, even more so if you’re screaming and running away in fear. However, if you aren’t overcome with shock, there are some characteristics to look out for when identifying a rat or mouse.

Rats Vs. Mice

When it comes to rats in your home, you’re most likely to come across Norway Rats or Roof Rats. As for mice, House Mice and Deer Mice commonly plague homeowners. Trying to figure out which type you have can be tricky, especially when all you have are gnawed items, a nest, or droppings to go off of. After all, mice and rats have a lot in common. For instance, both consume similar types of food, are nocturnal, and stick to the baseboards and bottom of walls when moving. As a result, one needs to pay attention to biological and behavioral differences when distinguishing rats from mice.

Rat Characteristics

No one wants to get up close and personal with a rat. Fortunately, there are some noticeable physical characteristics and attributes that can help you identify a rat. Some tell tale traits include:

  • Coarse fur that’s white, gray, brown or black in color
  • Large, typically 11-19 inches in length
  • A long, hairless tail covered in scales
  • Blunt snout
  • Small, thin ears
  • Droppings that are capsule shaped and usually about 3/4 inches in length

While bigger than mice, rats are much more cautious. In fact, rats are pretty suspicious. Instead of exploring new areas or scurrying across an open space, rats tend to stick to areas they know well. Many times you may hear rats before you ever see one in your home. As a result, it can be very difficult to trap them.

Mouse Characteristics

You may not expect it, but mice are actually braver than rats. This may come as a surprise given their small stature. Because mice tend to be bolder, they are more likely to be caught by traps and bait. If you come across a mouse or end up catching one, here’s what to keep an eye out for:

  • White, brown or gray in color
  • Small, 6-7 inches long (including tail)
  • Thin, hairy tails that are about inches in length
  • Ears tend to be floppy and are large in relation to the size of their heads
  • Sharp, triangular face shape
  • Dropping are shaped like rice and are about 1/8 to 1/4 inches long

Rodent Control

It doesn’t matter whether you have rats or mice as both can spell big problems for home and business owners. Not only do rodents take a toll on your peace of mind, but they can carry harmful diseases as well. Additionally, rodents can reproduce quickly. This means a small problem can escalate into an infestation rapidly. In order to keep your family members, pets, and employees safe, you should call a professional pest control service like Aptive to take care of the problem right away.

Mice and rats require different treatment strategies. Depending on which you have in your home or business makes a big difference when it comes to treating them. An Aptive pest professional will come up with a custom plan to rid your property of rodents, no matter the species. If you are experiencing a pest infestation or problem, call your local Aptive Environmental branch today.




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