Both rats and mice like to make your home their home, but how can you tell which is which? When the most you get is a glance as they scurry through your property, how can you tell the difference between rats and mice?
There are a few differences.
They are all pretty obvious when you have the luxury of time to look at pictures on a web page. Not so obvious when traveling at 20 miles an hour through your lounge!
So, here’s a quick overview of the main differences between rats and mice.
Mouse vs rat – Appearance
If you do see one of these tiny critters in your house, you’re fortunate. People rarely see mice or rats in their home.
They are both nocturnal and like to wait until we’re all in bed before making their move.
Mice are small with large ears. They tend to be white, brown or gray in color with long thin hairy tails. They tend to be between 3-4 inches long, with a 3-4 inch tail.
They will also have a cone-shaped snout with long whiskers to help them navigate.
Rats are usually larger than mice with smaller ears. They can also be white, brown or gray with a larger, hairless tail. Rats can be up to 11 inches long, with a 7-9 inch tail.
They have a shorter, more blunt snout with long whiskers to help them navigate.
Then you see them scurrying around, you’ll likely see the ears, snout and/or tail.
If the snout is triangular, the ears larger and tail hairy, it’s a mouse.
If the snout is shorter and wider, the ears smaller and the tail hairless and scaly, it’s a rat.
Rat’s tails are usually a giveaway as they look very different from a mouse.
Mouse vs rat – Signs
Most of us will never see a mouse or rat on our property as they are nocturnal. They do leave other signs though.
If you see one or more of these, you may have a mouse or rat problem.
Trouble is, none of these signs can really tell you what pest you have.
If you see tiny footprints, it could be either mouse or rat.
If you hear scurrying, it could be either mouse or rat.
If you see signs of chewing, it could be either mouse or rat.
If you see greasy lines on surfaces, that’s likely a rat as their skin is greasy where a mouse isn’t.
If you see chewing or hear noise in the attic or in higher places, it’s likely a mouse. Mice are more agile and better able to climb than rats.
Mouse vs rat – Droppings
Another key difference between rats and mice and something you will likely come across at some point is their droppings.
An unpleasant subject for sure, but rodent feces is another way to tell whether you have mice or rats.
They look roughly the same but there are differences.
Mice are smaller than rats so their droppings will be smaller too. They look like brown grains of rice with pointed ends. They measure between 1/8 and 1.4 inch long and will be grouped in 40-80 droppings in one area.
As rats are larger, their feces are also larger. They are more rounded in shape with blunt ends around ¾ of an inch in length. There will be fewer in the groups, between 20-40.
Mouse vs rat – Behavior
There are also slight differences in behavior between mice and rats. This may not be enough on its own to decide what pest you have, but combined with these other signs, it could be the clincher.
Despite being smaller, mice are also braver and more curious. That means you will often see mice before rats.
Mice can also climb well, don’t mind heights and can happily live in attics and higher spaces.
Although larger, rats are much more cautious and less likely to explore or be curious. You will rarely see rats, but it’s not impossible to spot them.
They don’t climb so well either, so will be more common on the ground, in cellars and under your property.
Mouse vs rat
Those are the main differences between rats and mice. Unless you see them, there is nothing definitive in their habits and lifestyle to tell them apart.
See them, or their droppings though and it’s easy to detect which pest you have.
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