How to tell the Difference Between a Mouse and a Rat

To prevent infestation of mice or rats, you need to know some basic things about rodent control. Especially, if you are not sure whether you are dealing with mice or rats. They both belong to the rodent family, but they have unique sets of characteristics. Here are some basic differences between a mouse and a rat.

house mouse


The house mouse is usually 12 to 20 cm long, including the tail. They may be white, brown, or gray in color. They are covered in short hair with lighter colored bellies. Their ears are large, and their long thin tail is covered in short hairs.

Rats are generally larger than mice. Young rats can sometimes be mistaken for mice. Rats are usually 16 to 40 cm long, depending on species. Their tail is thick and hairless, they have large feet and relatively small ears. Norway rats are called brown rats. They are larger than other rat species. Their tails are shorter than their body length. Roof rats are called black rats. Their tale is longer than their head and body. They also have larger ears than the brown rat.


Mice are very curious and they will investigate anything new while rats are cautious and that’s why people think they’re harder to trap. Mice prefer to eat grains, fruits, seeds, and plants, but they also love sweets. They build nests in hidden areas. In only one year, a female mouse can breed up to 10 litters of 5 to 6 young. These nocturnal creatures are good climbers and jumpers. Just like mice, rats also reproduce quickly.  Rats will eat nearly everything, but they prefer fresh grain and meat. Unlike mice, they will dig under the buildings and along fences.

norway rat


Droppings are a good way to distinguish if you have a mouse. Mouse droppings are 3 to 8 mm long and have pointed ends while rats droppings are shaped like a banana and are 1 to 2 mm long.

Digging Burrows

Mice do not dig deep while rats, on the other hand, dig deep and long burrows. If burrows are found anywhere near your property it may be a rat problem that you are dealing with.

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