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Mice & Rats: How to Tell the Difference

Mice & Rats: How to Tell the Difference

Mice & Rats: How to Tell the Difference

Posted November 30, 2020

Mice and rats look different. However, if you can’t get a good look at the rodent invading your home, it can be hard to tell the difference between the two. So, we put together a guide highlighting five main differences between mice and rats. Knowing these differences will help with effective rodent prevention and removal.

1. Appearance

One of the easiest ways to tell the difference between a rat and a mouse is by their appearance. If you happen to see a rodent scurry by, here are a few main areas to look to help identify the type of rodent it is. 

First is their size. The body of a mouse typically measures between 3 and 4 inches while the body of a rat can measure between 6 and 8 inches. When it comes to coloring, mice are found in white, brown, and gray. Rats are found in all of the same colors as mice, plus black. 

Another thing to look at is the nose. Mice have a triangle nose with long whiskers, while rat noses tend to have a more blunt edge. Mice have thin hair tails, but rats have long scaly tails. Lastly, check the ears. Mice will have larger ears than rats.

2. Food Preferences

You might picture a mouse eating a piece of cheese, but contrary to popular belief, this is not their food of choice. Mice like to eat grains, fruits, and seeds. If you are looking for a tempting crumb to place on a mouse trap, you’ll be more successful with a piece of chocolate than cheese. Rats, on the other hand, tend to be much less picky and aren’t going to turn down a free meal. Though they tend to like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds best.

3. Droppings

If you’ve been noticing droppings around your home but haven’t been able to see the rodent responsible, there are still things you can look for to help determine if it’s a mouse or rat. 

Mice droppings are long and pointed at the ends similar to a grain of rice. Rat droppings will be larger with a more rounded edge. For both rodents, the darker the droppings, the fresher they are. Make sure to wear gloves and a protective face mask when handling rodent feces, as they can carry disease.

4. Behavior

Mice are very curious animals and they will explore new things. If you are not catching anything in your mouse traps, it probably means it’s in the wrong spot. Rats however, are more cautious creatures. They will avoid new things until they have time to familiarize themselves with change. Because of this, rats will take the same path through a yard over and over again. If you suspect a rat in your yard, you may notice a beaten trail through your grass. Since rats take awhile to investigate new things, it can be difficult to trap them on your own. 

5. Habitat

Norway rats and roof rats are the two most common types of rats you’ll find around the house. Norway rats like to burrow outside walls or in vegetation. Roof rats can be found living in trees, attics, or nooks on your roof. House mice can be found living in walls, crawl spaces, storage bins, attics, basements and other similar places. They like to set up camp near a food source for easy access. To help prevent mice, make sure you are eliminating any potential food sources.

Now that we’ve addressed some of the differences between mice and rats, let’s talk about something these rodents have in common. Both rodents produce a new litter every 3 to 4 weeks. The average size of a mouse litter is 6 to 8, and 6 to 13 for a rat litter. With a population that can grow so quickly, it’s important to make sure you are taking proper rodent prevention measures in your home. You can learn more about how to prevent mice and rats here.

Already have rodent problems? Leave it to the pros, and get your free estimate today! We are here to take pest control off your hands. No Rodents. Simply better.

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