Difference Between Mice And Rats

A mice crawling on the floor

Yikes! What was that crawling across your foot? Was it a mouse? A rat? Does it really matter? All you want is for it to be gone and to definitely not run across your foot again. Whether it’s a mouse or a rat, most home or business owners don’t necessarily care about which one has gotten inside their property. What’s most concerning is that somehow a rodent has managed to get inside. Homeowners want the rodent eliminated—and the possibility of future intrusions with it.

What are the differences between a mouse and a rat? Well, they aren't tremendous, but it could be useful to know what makes them different from one another. Mice and rats alike invade structures for food, water, and warm shelter. Mice are usually smaller than rats and most often live outdoors. That being said, house mice are most commonly found near humans, and field mice spend half of the year outside in nests and move indoors during the colder months, making them a potential seasonal infestation. Mice are abundant breeders, as many as 13 litters (of about 6 mice each) can be produced in one year. A common sign of mouse infestation is gnaw marks—two paired tooth marks about 1/8 of an inch wide. Mice will chew through boxes, wood, cloth, and more. Another sign is rod-shaped droppings that resemble little grains of rice. Many homeowners find droppings in pantries or kitchen drawers.

Rats are generally larger, the Norway rat being the larger when compared to the roof rat. Their subtle differences and habitat preferences help determine which one has invaded your home. The Norway rat is brownish-gray in color and is about 10-12 inches in length. They aren’t strong climbers so they prefer to live on bottom floors and basements. Roof rats are shiny black with a lighter underbelly and are about 6-8 inches long. They prefer warm, moist areas and use their climbing skills to live in higher areas of homes and facilities. Rats' front teeth grow continuously, giving them the urge to chew non-stop. The damage they can do to homes and businesses is extensive. They are known to chew through insulation, structural beams, and electrical wires (which increases the risk of a fire). They can cause water and mold issues, too. Both mice and rats are considered a sanitary issue and can carry diseases such as salmonellosis, and a recent strain carried by field mice called hantavirus, which affects the lungs.

If you are a home or business owner, you’re probably wondering how to prevent rodent infestations. Rodents enter your home through any access point they can find—even holes so insignificant you may not notice them without careful inspection. General prevention tips include: sealing cracks, crevices, and gaps on the outside of the property, trimming back trees and bushes away from the exterior to eliminate any “bridges” to the property, keeping clutter to a minimum, properly storing items, and limiting any access to food and water by keeping up with repairs on pipes and appliances. The best way to eliminate current infestations and prevent more is to contact American Pest Solutions about our year-round Pest Guard Home Protection Plan. With this plan, you have access to fully licensed and experienced service technicians. We offer comprehensive rodent removal and structure repair services as well as a plan to seal off pest entry points. Whether it is a mouse or rat, we promise to do our best to make sure no rodent runs across your foot again.