Mouse vs. Rat: What is the real difference? The main difference between a rat and a mouse might appear obvious, but there are many subtle differences. Both mice and rats belong to the family of rodents and, if allowed to invade an area, can wreak havoc.

Knowing they are both rodents is one thing; however, can you tell the difference between rats and mice? This is important because these differences have much to do with how you exterminate rodents.

Key Differences Between a Mouse and a Rat

The most significant way to differentiate these two rodents is by their size. Mice are quite a bit smaller in length and weight than rats. Rat tails are thicker and longer, and their body length is heavier than the mouse.

Mice have large ears

Despite its small body size, a mouse has floppy ears that may even be more prominent than a rat’s ears. You will recognize a lot of mouse droppings if you have an invasion that shows signs of mice in your house. This is due to mice creating much more droppings than rats do.

A mouse with rounded ear droppings and a rat with pointed ear droppings

What Habitat is Best for Breeding Mice

When breeding mice, they prefer to eat plants and cereal grains, although a mouse's diet consists of practically anything. A mouse's diet is more restrained than a rat's diet.

Which is worse-- mouse vs. rat?

Some ask, are rats worse than mice? The answer is they are not any worse. Both can chew on the electric wires inside walls and the upper floors of a home.

Distinguishing Characteristics of a House Mouse

Some specific characteristics of a house mouse include the following:

  • A house mouse’s total body is about three to four inches long.
  • The tail will be about the same length as the body.
  • A mouse is tiny, weighing only about one-half to three ounces.
  • Mice have smaller heads, pointy, triangle-shaped snouts, and giant ears.
  • The fur usually is light brown, grey, or black.
  • A mouse’s tail is long, skinny, and covered in fur, about the same color as the rest of the rodent’s body.

 Characteristics Describing a Rat

The way to tell the difference between a mouse and a rat is by the following characteristics:

  • A rat’s body is generally more significant than a mouse-- about nine to eleven inches in length.
  • Its tail will be almost as long as it is--from seven to nine inches.
  • Rats weigh in quite a bit heavier than a mouse at anywhere from 12 ounces to one and a half pounds.
  • A rat's head is more in proportion to its size, with tiny ears.
  • The body is covered in bristly and rough fur.
  • A rat’s tail is scaly, hairless, and thick, often a lighter tone than the body, even pink colored in most cases.

Are they Mouse or Rat Droppings

One way to tell whether a rodent infestation is mice or rats is by the droppings they leave behind. The droppings of mice are typically found in small piles, while rat droppings are more spread out.

How to tell the difference between the two droppings?

Because rats are more prominent, their droppings will be too. Here are some ways to tell the difference between the two:

Mouse droppings are about one-eight to a quarter of an inch long and look a lot like a rice grain. There will be several noticeable during the day--anywhere from forty to one hundred.

How to tell if you have a rat infestation

If you have a rat infestation at home, you will notice about twenty to fifty rat droppings in a single day. They will have a rounder shape, about as big as an olive pit, and about three-quarters of an inch in length.

Many rats around indicating a rat infestation

The Diet of Mice and Rats

Mice have different diets and patterns of eating than rats. Rat consumes just about anything they find available, while mice prefer to eat seeds, fruits, and grains as a food source. Both rats and mice live for approximately two and a half years.

What Rodents are the Most Common Pests?

The four types of rodents that people most recognize include:

  • The roof rat
  • Black rats or ship rats
  • The Brown rat or Norway rat
  • White-footed deer mouse
  • House mouse

The Different Species of the Brown Rat and House Mouse

Although both rodents look alike, the main difference is that mice have much more slender bodies than rats. In addition, the mouse tail is significantly longer than its size, and they have larger ears.

The Bown rat or Rattus norvegicus is also called the Norway rat. Then there is the black rat or roof rat, the Rattus rattus, and finally, the Mus domesticus, or house mouse. The brown rat has small ears and a thick body.

What is a Roof Rat?

One of the two primary kinds of rats homeowners are most likely to come across are roof rats. Also called brown Norway rats. Part of the Muridae family, Rattus rattus is the biggest mammal and rodent family in the world.

Rat on the roof

Which makes a good pet-- mouse vs. rat?

Black rats have been known to be taken in as pets. Typically though, it's the Brown rat or R. Norvegicus that make the best pets. A rat raised as a pet behaves differently from its wild counterparts.

What are the Different Kinds of Mice that Infest Homes?

The first type of mouse is commonly found in houses.  It uses burrows to construct its nests. These rodents are nocturnal; they also like checking out their environment and are curious about new items.

How do you characterize a House Mouse?

It is a rodent with beady black eyes, grey, black, or brown fur, huge round ears, and tiny paws. Although they make cute pets, they are also annoying pests that are less adorable and deplorable.

These tiny pests can get into a quarter of an inch opening, giving them several entry points throughout your home.

Things that let you know you have a House Mouse

You likely have a problem with Mus musculus if you recognize any of the following signs in your home or elsewhere.

  • Noticed their dark droppings, about a quarter of an inch with pointed ends.
  • Smelling the odor of urine.
  • There will be a solid musty odor.
  • Food containers, wires, wood, cardboard boxes, and plastic will have gnaw marks on the corners.
  • You will start noticing paper towels, newspapers, magazines, and books with shredded pages (they use this material for their nests).
  • There might be rounded holes about a one-half inch high in the baseboards o

Mus musculus typically live in areas all over the United States. Their nesting places are in quiet spots in the home.

Also, they can be found in corners where there is clutter or in the walls and behind appliances.

What is the White-Footed Deer Mouse?

These rodents are little hoarders. They gather their food and put it all over their nesting areas. No place is safe from the White-Footed Deer Mouse.

They prefer to search for foods like grains, berries, nuts, and seeds. But when dealing with mouse infestations, it's essential to consider the best food to catch mice. Understanding their dietary preferences can help you select the most effective bait for your traps.

Also referred to as White-footed Mouse

We also call this rodent species a field mouse. It is typically a brownish-red to golden hue with white on its chest and feet. Field mice are bigger than house mice and usually have a bi-colored tail.

Field mice prefer rural areas but are still pests to humans. These tiny rodent species infest storage bins, grain silos, and barns.

They compromise stored foods and carry great potential for spreading such harmful diseases as the Hantavirus.

A white-footed deer mouse

More Mouse vs. Rat differences

The biggest difference between these rodent species is that rats tend to eat more food than mice because of their larger body size. Some people think baby rats look like adult mice, yet, a baby rat is often significantly larger than adult mice. Baby rats have a vast heads, appearing to have been blown up like a balloon with air.

Baby mouse vs. rat

The adult mouse has a body that is slim and well-proportioned, with a head that has the appearance of having a sharper angle. They can also get into bigger areas and create more extensive structural damage.

The feet of baby rats and head compared to the mouse's body is much more significant. Mice generally have bellies with lighter colors, and their bodies are brown or light grey.

Some rats, called houses, wharf, water, sewer, or barn, get up to sixteen inches long. These giant rodents have a blunt nose and thick, heavy bodies.

Rat droppings are significantly thicker and bigger than mice droppings.

Rat Behavior vs. Mouse Behavior

Both of these creatures are rodent species, yet they behave in a distinctively different manners. Mice are much braver than rats, more curious, and like to explore new objects.

Call Us For Help With Rats and Mice

best pest control service in New Lenox to get rid of mice and rats

If you have issues with rats and mice or other rodents and need a reliable pest control service, call A.N.T. Pest Control. We understand the extensive damage a rodent problem causes and know the best pest control methods.

Call A.N.T. Pest Control today for a free estimate so you can enjoy living a life free of rodent problems and unwanted guests.

A.N.T. Pest Control is a licensed, certified, and insured company serving the following areas: New Lenox, Alsip, Crestwood, Elwood, Frankfort, Homerglen, Joliet, Lockport, Manhattan, Matteson, Mokena, Monee, Oak Forest, Orland Park, Palos Township, Shorewood, Tinley Park, and Wilmington. At A.N.T. Pest Control, we strive to earn your trust with our exceptional services in these locations and their surrounding suburbs.

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New Lenox, IL 60451


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