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Is That A Rat Or A Mouse And Why Should It Matter

You’ve discovered all the indicators and you’ve verified it– there’s a rodent in your house. Is it a rat or a mouse? Does it really matter? Just how can you tell? There are significant differences in rat vs mouse, it can be difficult for the average property owner to differentiate when comparing the two. The behavior, diet, and environment of each of these pests impacts how they are eliminated and avoided. Appropriate identification is vital for efficient rodent control.

There are over 70 types of mice and rats in the United States. The most common are the Norway rat, the roof rat, and the house mouse. Let’s have a look at the difference between rats and mice and why it matters.


Mice are curious and will explore anything new they encounter. Because of this, you can place set mouse traps directly in their path. Mice can stand on their hind legs when they are supported by their tails. They are outstanding jumpers, swimmers and climbers and are incredibly fast runners. Mice are nocturnal and most active from sunset until dawn. They do not like bright lights.

Rats are more cautious than mice. They will stay clear of new things until they become used to them being there. Because of this, unset traps should be positioned in their path to begin with to let them get made use of to them and afterwards changed with set traps later on. Rats are strong swimmers and will commonly live in drains, permitting them to enter structures through broken drains and toilets. They will climb to reach food, water, and shelter. They follow regular routines and paths each day.

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House mice are much smaller sized than their rat cousins. They have tiny heads, tiny feet, pointed snouts, and big ears with some hair on them. They are generally light brown in color with some gray shading and dark tails. Their droppings are shaped like tiny rods.

Norway rats have heavy, thick bodies. They are the largest of the three common rodent species. They have blunt noses and short ears with dark hair. They are generally brownish with black shading and shaggy coats. Their tails are dark on top and pale underneath. Their droppings are shaped like capsules.

Roof rats have light slim bodies. They have pointed noses and long ears with no hair. They are generally gray in color with black shading and smooth coats. Their tails are dark. They have droppings shaped like spindles.

What They Eat:

Mice prefer cereal grains and plants however they will feed on virtually anything.

Rats will eat nearly anything, as well, however prefer fresh grain and meat. Rats likewise need 1/2 to 1 ounce of water a day to survive.


Mice prefer to nest near their food sources. They will make use of any kind of soft material or shredded paper to construct their nests.

Rats will burrow under structures, along fencings, and under plants or debris. Norway rats generally live in these burrows while roof rats prefer to nest in walls, attics, and trees.


Mice will have up to 10 litters annually and generally live from about 9 to 12 months.

Norway rats will have up to 6 litters annually and live 12 to 18 months.

Roof rats will have up to 8 litters annually however have less babies in their litters than Norway rats do.

Fun Facts:

The house mouse is considered one of the top 100 world’s worst intruders. They are afraid of rats due to the fact that rats will eat them. Mice are also color blind.

Rats are nocturnal and have poor vision. Norway rats and roof rats do not get along and will in fact fight each other to the death. Norway rats tend to live on the lower floors of buildings while roof rats will live on the top floors.

Why Does It Matter?

Why does it matter whether you have a rat or a mouse? Both rat and mice droppings have microorganisms that are hazardous to humans. Both are likewise very good at reproducing and increase their populations quickly, making them more challenging to manage. The significance in correctly identifying rats vs mice impacts how they are managed and eradicated. Since they each have such different diets, habitats, and behaviors, different strategies are employed when it comes to eliminating them. What might work for house mice may not work in controlling rats and the other way around.

If you have a concern with rodents or any other pests, speak to an expert pest control service provider that can not only correctly identify the problem pest, but also set you up with the proper treatment and ongoing prevention strategies.

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