The Difference Between Mice and Rats

As fall and cold weather begin to set in, you may have noticed an increase in pest activity. This is no surprise; major changes in the animals’ environment will instigate movement and migration, especially during the shift from fall to winter. Think you might have rats or mice infesting your home? Before removal and prevention can take place, you need to know which species you are dealing with. The differences between a mouse and a rat can be difficult to address as there are variations of both species and each subspecies is similar and yet strikingly different than the next. However, as you investigate the differences, you will find it much easier to identify which pest you need removed. Below is an outline of the 3 general differences between mice and rats: appearance, droppings, and tendencies.

Appearance

The most prominent observation between a mouse and a rat is the size of the animal’s body (not including the tail). Mice are often between 1 to 5 inches long, while rats are more likely to be between 5 to 7 inches or more. With mice, they are more light brown or grey in coloring. Rats are more on the dark brown to black side. Mice often have smaller, almost dainty paws, whereas rats have larger, more sturdy paws. Another, sign of which rodent you are dealing with is the tail. If the tail of the critter is the same length of the body or longer, you are looking at a mouse. If the tail is shorter than the body, you are most likely looking at a rat. An analysis of the appearance of the critter(s) is a good start to assessing which pest you need removed. However, it can be a challenge to get a good look at either of these critters. In this case, looking at their excrement and their behavioral tendencies will be your biggest advantage.

Droppings

It may seem a little archaic to use an animal’s poop to identify its species, but it is still a relevant practice. With mice, the size of their droppings are about the size of a grain of rice. Mice are likely to defecate over 80 times a day. Mice are also not very selective with where they relieve themselves, and will often leave a strong odor. Rats are a bit more discreet. Most rats will repeatedly eliminate in one area and the size of their droppings will be similar in size to olive pits.

Tendencies

When it comes to behavioral tendencies, check for damaged goods, wood, fabrics, soap and/or wiring as mice will gnaw on all these materials. Mice are herbivores in diet and like to live near people. Often times in wall voids, crawl spaces, basements, storage boxes, home foundations and shrubbery, mice will find shelter and food. Mice can fit into any place with a hole the size of a dime or larger. Mice are considered one of the most difficult pests to remove; they produce up to 12 or more young every litter and can have up to 10 litters a year. It’s incredibly vital to know if you are dealing with a mouse infestation because the longer you take to remedy the situation the greater the population will become. Rats tend to live in either of 2 places: higher locations like that of attics or trees, or in burrows at the ground level. Rats can comfortably fit through any hole the size of a quarter or larger. Rats are omnivores and will have up to 5 litters per year. Regardless of the species, rat or mouse, both of these rodents love to invade the home during the fall months to evade the cold. Because of the litter frequency of both of these critters, finding and removing these animals upon notice is crucial to avoid infestation. Find professional expert help, here at PestStop with a quick call to us at 360.228.3486. We will schedule an appointment and help you keep your home safe.

References:

  1. “How rats became an inescapable part of city living”. National Geographic. 2019-04. Retrieved 2019-10-18.
  2. Corrigan, B., Ph.D. (2017). “City ParkRodent IPM 2017”. RMC Pest Management Consulting. Retrieved 2019-10-18.
  3. Huber, K. (2019-01-04). “Climate change partially to blame for rat population boom in New York City”. CGTN America. Retrieved 2019-10-18.
  4. “Rodent Reference Guide”. Liphatech. (2018-06). Retrieved 2019-10-18.