Know the Differences Between Rats and Mice

Both rats and mice can create major problems in the home. Unlike other animals, they do not hibernate during the winter, so they often enter homes looking for food and warmth during colder months. As a result, mice and rats get into your food, are a fire hazard by gnawing on electrical wires, damage walls and furniture, and even spread disease by leaving bacteria on food preparation surfaces. While both rats and mice are pests, several physical and behavioral characteristics can help you decipher which of these pests are invading your home.


The first distinguishing factor of mice and rats are their appearance. Although they may look similar, there are still many identifying differences. Mice are much smaller than rats, growing only to 12-20cm in length, including the tail, and have triangular snouts. Whereas, rats can grow as long as 40cm or more and weigh twice as much as grown mice, with much more blunt snouts. Another difference is the appearance of their tails. Mice tails are long, thin, hairy and about the same length as their body. However, rats have hairless, scaly tails, while also being the same length as their body.


mouse rat comparison

No matter what their size, these pests have the ability to crawl through much smaller spaces than you would expect. Did you know that mice can fit through a hole the size of a button on your shirt? Rats on the other hand can fit through a hole the size of a quarter! They are flexible little creatures that will do anything for food and warmth.


Another distinguishing factor of mice and rats are their droppings. Even if you do not see an actual mouse or rat, seeing their droppings is a definite sign of their presence. Mice droppings are the size of a grain of rice and produce 80 to 100 droppings per day. In addition to the enormous amount of droppings produced per day, mice do not care where they go to the bathroom. You will find the pellets ANYWHERE in the house. Rats, on the other hand, choose one spot to use the bathroom in the house as to hide their presence. Their droppings are much larger than mice droppings, being as big as olive pits. They only produce about 20-50 pellets per day, but since rat droppings are much bigger it does not seem any less than mice droppings.

mice rat droppings


With several common species of mice and rats, unfortunately there is not one specific place in your home that you will find these creatures. For example, one species of rats prefer to burrow in the ground and therefore will be seen more on ground levels of homes. Whereas, other species prefer high places and are seen more often in attics and trees. Either way, these pests do not keep quiet when gnawing or scurrying around your home so hearing them will be a definite sign of their presence, whether they prefer to dwell in higher or lower locations.

Lastly, both mice and rats produce litters very quickly. They can produce up to 12 babies per litter, producing more than a thousand babies in a year within a colony. Therefore, a rodent problem can go from bad to worse before you know it!

How can you proactively protect your home from infestations of rats and mice?

Since they reproduce so rapidly, it is best to implement prevention methods early on in order to keep a rodent-free home. Some prevention methods include keeping all food properly sealed and stored, seal cracks and crevices in the home, and install weather strips on the outside doors to prevent new rodents from entering. Cardboard objects are attractive to mice and rats as they like to use them for nests.

Traps are a well-known way to be rid of these invaders, but it is not the most effective method. Instinctively, rodents are wary of new things in their environment, including traps and baits. Therefore, most of them will actually steer away from these control measures and continue living contently in your home. But even if these baits catch a few of the rodents, it is not likely to permanently be rid of an entire colony with these methods. It is recommended that anyone experiencing a rodent infestation contact a professional. Pest control technicians are trained to know where rodents are hiding, their habits, and will address the infestation from the source.

Whether your infestation is of mice or rats, we can help. Feel safe in your home again! Call us at (630) 451-8101 for a FREE quote!