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

You’ve found all the indications and you’ve confirmed it– there’s a rodent in your house. Is it a rat or a mouse? Does it actually matter? Just how can you tell? There are considerable differences in rat vs mouse, it can be tough for the average homeowner to distinguish between the two. The behavior, diet, and environment of each of these pests affects how they are dealt with and prevented. Appropriate identification is necessary for efficient rodent control.

There more than 70 varieties of mice and rats in the USA. The most common are the Norway rat, the roof rat, and the house mouse. Let’s take a look at the contrast between rats and mice and why it matters.


Mice are curious and will investigate anything new they stumble upon. Due to this, you can place set mouse traps directly in their path. Mice can stand on their back 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 energetic from sunset till dawn. They do not like bright lights.

Rats are a lot more cautious than mice. They will stay clear of new things till they get used to them being there. Due to this, unset traps need to be put in their path first to allow them get used to them and after that replaced with set traps later on. Rats are powerful swimmers and will usually reside in sewage systems, permitting them to get in buildings via broken drains pipes and commodes. They will climb to get to food, water, and shelter. They follow regular regimens and paths every day.

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House mice are a lot smaller sized than their rat cousins. They have tiny heads, tiny feet, pointed noes, and large ears with some hair on them. They are usually light brown in color with some grey shading and dark tails. Their droppings are shaped like tiny rods.

Norway rats have hefty, thick bodies. They are the biggest of the three common rodent species. They have blunt noses and short ears with dark hair. They are usually brown with black shading and shaggy coats. Their tails are dark on top and light beneath. Their droppings are shaped like pills.

Roof rats have light slender bodies. They have pointed noses and long ears without any hair. They are usually grey in color with black shading and smooth coats. Their tails are dark. They have droppings shaped like spindles.

What They Eat:

Mice favor cereal grains and plants but they will feed on practically anything.

Rats will eat virtually anything, as well, but favor fresh grain and meat. Rats also need 1/2 to 1 ounce of water a day to survive.


Mice like to nest near their food sources. They will make use of any type of soft material or shredded paper to build their nests.

Rats will tunnel under buildings, along fences, and under plants or debris. Norway rats commonly live in these burrows while roof rats like to nest in walls, attics, and trees.


Mice will have up to 10 litters each year and commonly live from about 9 to 12 months.

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

Roof rats will have up to 8 litters each year but have fewer 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 bad eyesight. 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 contain microorganisms that are harmful to humans. Both are also very good at breeding and increase their populations very quickly, making them more difficult to manage. The significance in properly identifying rats vs mice affects how they are managed and eliminated. Due to the fact that they each have such different diets, habitats, and behaviors, different techniques are employed when it concerns eliminating them. What may work for house mice might not work in controlling rats and the other way around.

If you have a problem with rodents or any other pests, call an expert pest control provider who can not only properly identify the nuisance pest, but also set you up with the correct treatment and continuous prevention strategies.

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