Mice vs. Rats – What’s the Difference?

Understanding the type of rodent you have in your home is key; the way you fight the problem might be completely different if you are fighting a mouse or rat. Determining the difference can come down to the rodent’s features and characteristics, including behavior, habitats and feeding. The different rodents also require different pest control tactics too.

Differences in Physical Appearances

The physical differences of mice and rats include size, shape, color and body parts. A general guideline for determining what type of rodent you have in your home is:

AttributeMouseNorway Rat
SizeSmaller – generally around 4 inchesLarger – approximately 6 – 8 inches
WeightAround 5 ouncesAround 11 ounces
ColorBrown body with grey shadingBrown body with black shading
EarsLarge earsShort ears with dark hair
Tail ColorDarkDark on top and pale underneath
HeadSmaller than bodyProportioned to body
Life Expectancy9 to 12 months12 to 18 months

Behavioral Differences

The biggest behavioral difference between mice and rats is how they approach their environment. Mice are curious and will explore, but rats are cautious and hesitant. Rats need to become familiar with a new item in their environment before approaching it. Mice, on the other hand, will approach anything new to satisfy their curiosity.

Food and Habitat Distinctions

Mice tend to make their homes near food sources like grains, cereal or plants. They build their nests in hidden areas. Nests are usually made from soft materials and shredded paper. Rats homes are generally burrowed under buildings and near water. It is not uncommon for rats to live in sewers. Rats dietary preference is grains and meat, and they require daily fluid to survive.

Pest Control

With the differences in behavior, pest control will not be the same for mice and rats. The size difference is one factor in the extermination of the rodent. A small mouse trap will not work on the bigger rat. The rat will require a trap, but because rats are more cautious, just setting traps will not work. The traps need to become a familiar part of the rat’s environment before they will approach the trap. Place unset traps out for the rats to become accustomed to. Mice will approach the mouse trap out of curiosity.

For more information or to schedule an inspection, contact Advanced Pest & Weed Management today. We can create the right treatment plan for you!

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