Understand the Difference Between Rats and Mice

Nobody likes to find a rodent of any kind in their home, but it is especially distressing to find a mouse or a rat. While many people might associate the two as being alike, there is a distinct difference between rats and mice. Understanding what differences there are between rats and mice can help you determine which one you have living in your home and what pest control service to call. 

Common Confusion

In truth, the word rat and mouse are broad descriptions. There are several rodents people refer to as rats and mice even if they are not closely related at all. For instance, the word mouse may define deer mice, dormice, field mice, or even house mice. The world rat, on the other hand, can describe Norway rats, wood rats, pack rats, black rats, and several other rodents that typically fall into the rat category. However, none of the mentioned rats or mice are as closely related as you might think. There are distinct differences between each type of rat mention, as well as each type of mouse mentioned. There are also distinct differences between rats and mice. Commonly, when people see rats and mice in their home, they are usually house mice, field mice, Norway rats, roof rats, and black rats. Still, to many people who fall victim to an invasion of rodents, all they see is the rodent rather than the difference between rats and mice. There is a lot of confusion as to what differences exist between rats and mice. Unfortunately, that confusion can make it hard to know how best to control the problem, so identifying the differences is important.

Differences in Physical Appearance

A rat is a rodent that is medium-sized. Typically, the rat has a long thin tail. Norway rats have a thick body covered in thick, shaggy brown hair. They also have short ears and a blunt nose. You may also identify the Norway rat but the capsule-shaped droppings it leaves behind when it defecates. Roof rats have a slender body and their nose is profoundly pointed. They have large ears and smooth, gray hairs that appear to have a somewhat dark, almost black shading over their body. If you see droppings that look like spindles, particularly up in your attic, it is likely that you have a roof rat problem. Like the roof rat, the black rat also has a slender body. The fur that covers its body is brownish-gray to almost black in colour and it feels long and coarse to the touch. It also has a rather long, scaly feeling tail. In fact, the tail of the black rat is typically longer than the length of the rat’s body, including the head. The house mouse is a small rodent with a small head and feet that are also small. It has a defined, pointed nose and large ears. Light brown hair with some gray shading covers their bodies. Typically, the droppings of a house mouse look like rods. As a cousin to the rat, the field mouse is perhaps the rodent most commonly confused with a rat. However, field mice are small in size, which is much different than the medium size of a rat. The field mouse comes in a variety of shades, which includes brown, grey, black, and even white. Most commonly, the field mouse is either grey or white. Field mice also have short, stubby legs with long, sharp claws on their feet. Their tall is usually as long as their body. Although field mice prefer to stick to fields, hence the name, they will sometimes enter homes, particularly in the winter months, to find warmth and food since the cold weather makes their food source scarce.

Behaviour Differences

Mice will eat almost anything, but they have a particular preference for grains and even plants. They prefer to nest near a food source, though they are intelligent enough to keep their nest hidden. Within a year’s time, a mouse can reproduce and give birth up to ten times, and she may have five or six babies per litter. Rats will also eat nearly anything. In fact, they use coprophagy to survive if necessary, which is the practice of eating feces belonging to other species. Feces contain particles of food that allow rats to thrive. However, rats have a preference for meat and grains. The female rat can give birth to six litters of young per year, and each litter can contain up to a dozen babies. Mice are often afraid of rats and will avoid areas where rats reside. The reason behind their fear is a practice called muricide. Muricide is a term used to describe rats that kill and eat mice. Rats have no issues killing and eating mice out of defence and also out of a need for food. If you suspect you have a rodent problem in your home, whether rats or mice, contact a pest professional for assistance. Call us if you need help: 647-496-2211Feel free to check our selection of mice traps and bait stations.

Get a free quote