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

You’ve discovered all the indicators and you’ve confirmed it– there’s a rodent in your house. Yet is it a rat or a mouse? Does it really matter? Just how can you tell? Although there are substantial differences in rat vs mouse, it can be difficult for the average homeowner to distinguish between the two. The behavior, diet, and environment of each of these rodents affects how they are eliminated and protected against. Correct identification is essential for effective rodent control.

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


Mice are curious and will check out anything new they discover. As a result 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 exceptional jumpers, swimmers and climbers and are very fast runners. Mice are nocturnal and most energetic from sunset up until dawn. They do not like bright lights.

Rats are more cautious than mice. They will stay clear of new things up until they become used to them being there. As a result of this, unset traps should be put in their path initially to let them get utilized to them and afterwards changed with set traps later on. Rats are powerful swimmers and will typically live in sewage systems, permitting them to go into buildings via broken drains pipes and commodes. 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 large ears with some hair on them. They are usually light brown in color with some grey shading and dark tails. Their droppings are formed 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 pale underneath. Their droppings are formed like capsules.

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

What They Eat:

Mice like cereal grains and plants yet they will eat almost anything.

Rats will consume nearly anything, too, yet favor fresh grain and meat. Rats also require 1/2 to 1 ounce of water a day to survive.


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

Rats will burrow under buildings, along fences, 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 per year and generally live from about 9 to 12 months.

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

Roof rats will have up to 8 litters per year yet have less babies in their litters than Norway rats do.

Fun Facts:

The house mouse is considered among the top 100 world’s worst intruders. They are afraid of rats because rats will eat them. Mice are also color blind.

Rats are nocturnal and have bad vision. Norway rats and roof rats do not get along and will actually battle each other to the death. Norway rats tend to reside on the lower floors of buildings while roof rats will reside on the upper floors.

Why Does It Matter?

Why does it matter whether you have a rat or a mouse? Both rat and mice droppings have pathogens that are harmful to humans. Both are also very good at reproducing and increase their populations quickly, making them harder to manage. The importance in properly identifying rats vs mice affects how they are controlled and exterminated. Because they each have such different diets, habitats, and behaviors, different methods are employed when it comes to removing 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, speak to a professional pest control service provider that can not just properly identify the problem pest, but also set you up with the proper treatment and continuous prevention strategies.

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