1. How To Tell If You Have Mice Or Rats


How To Tell If You Have Mice Or Rats

Mice and rats are both types of rodents and both something that you do not want invading your home.

But, if you do all of a sudden find yourself eye to eye with a furry rodent how do you know whether it is a mouse or rat?

There are actually several different ways that you can determine if rats or mice have made their way into your Maryland, DC, or Virginia home.

One of the most common mistakes made when trying to identify what type of rodent is in a home is mistaken for a juvenile rat for an adult mouse.

However, if you know your rodents, you can easily tell the two apart. A young rat’s head and feet will be large compared to their bodies, and their face will be stubby and blunt with wide noses.

They will have an overall clumsy appearance, like most young mammals, including humans! This is in comparison to an adult mouse whose body will be more proportioned, slim, and their head will have a more sharp-angled appearance to it.

Rats may leave no trace

Customers who call us with rodent problems often suspect that someone or some “thing” has been dining on a late-night fare of cookies, bread, and chocolate. But, in some cases, it is not always that easy to detect a rat problem.

Opportunistic rats with a case of the late-night munchies often LNT of said evidence. In some cases, the only indication of a rodent infestation (that can be found) is a questionably-torn package of Ramen noodles. No droppings, no sightings…nada.


Rats are twice as likely to move food

While mice typically eat a small amount of food at its source, rats are more likely to collect and take the food to another location before savoring it.

This may be because rats are larger and physically more capable of hauling off a granola bar, or just personal preference. Either way, rats are notorious for moving food to a more secluded area to consume it.


Mice will leave droppings where they travel (and eat)

Where there are mice, there are droppings. The droppings are small; resembling a grain of rice with pointy ends. They will be located where mice travel and where they eat, such as behind a stove, in the pantry, or under cabinetry.

Their urine also plays a vital role in communicating with other mice—whether to attract a potential female mate or warn other male mice to keep away.


Mice do not grow up to be rats

Surprisingly, many people do not realize that rats and mice belong to different species. Rats will always be larger, heavier, and longer than mice. And, their fecal droppings will be larger too.

Adult mice have bodies that are 3 to 4 inches long with 3 to 4-inch tails. Adult rats can grow up to 9 to 11 inches in length with 7 to 9-inch tails.


Which reproduce faster, mice or rats?

In a female mouse's short lifespan of 1.5 to 2.5 years, she can produce more than 300 offspring. And those offspring can begin mating as early as 4 weeks of age!

As you can probably imagine, a couple of mice can produce a large population quickly. But, mice can't compete with rats. In one short year, a pair of rats can produce as many as 2,000 descendants.


What is the difference between a rat's diet and a mouse's diet?

Both mice and rats are omnivores, which means they eat plants and animals, but they tend to enjoy different food items.

Rats tend to eat more since they are larger and can get into larger items. They will eat anything but generally gravitate toward items such as meats, pet foods, fish, and stored cheeses.

Mice prefer grains, fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts, but they can eat meat, including the meat from dead mice. During times of starvation, a mouse will even eat its own tail!


Differences Between Mice and Rats Include:

  • Adult mice measure around 7 ½ inches in length, including the tail; while adult rats can grow up to 18 inches in length, including the tail.
  • Mice have thin, slightly hairy tails; rats have a thicker, hairless, scaly tail.
  • The nose of a mouse is triangular in shape; the nose of a rat is more blunt and rounded.
  • Both mice and rats can be brown or gray in color, but rats can also be black.
  • Mice droppings are approximately 1/4 inch long with pointed ends.
  • Rat droppings are longer (3/4 inch) with blunt ends.


Why You Don't Want Rodents:

Rodents are commensal animals. This means that they have come to at least partially rely on humans for their food source.

This is why they are often found living around homes in both urban and rural areas.

When the weather starts to cool, they start to look for indoor shelter to overwinter in. As a homeowner, you should prevent this at all costs because of the dangers that they can introduce into your home.

Both rats and mice can damage the structure of your home by chewing through wires, pipes, insulation, and drywall.

They can also damage personal items, like furniture, clothing, carpets, and storage boxes. They can contaminate your food and food prep areas, and introduce diseases like Salmonellosis, Hantavirus, Leptospirosis, and lymphocytic diseases.

They can also create nesting areas behind walls, in your attic, basement, and even behind appliances.

Rodents reproduce very quickly; two rodents can quickly become 20 or more in a very short period of time.

Female mice have a 21-day pregnancy and have litters that average six pups and it only takes those pups about 6 weeks to reach breeding age. And each female can have up to 8 litters per year, so as you can see, if a small rodent problem is not contained quickly you will soon have a very large rodent problem on your hands.

Rat reproduction rates are similar but they have large litters and a slightly longer pregnancy.


Still Not Sure if You Have Mice or Rats?

No matter what type of rodent infestation you have at home, one thing is for certain, you should get immediate help from a rodent pest control expert.

Professionals will be able to correctly identify the species that are in your home and will be able to take the appropriate steps to safely and humanely eliminate them from your house.

Check out our rodent control options to learn more about how you can get rid of rats and mice.

Professionals will also be able to determine what the cause of your rodent problem is and take steps to help you correct those issues.

Having a rodent control service in place will make sure that your current problem is taken care of and those future problems will not arise unexpectedly, ensuring that your home remains free of unwanted guests all year long, well at least the furry, rodent kind!

Click here to view a mouse vs rat infographic to further assist you in identifying between the two invasive rodents.