You see a furry creature with a long tail scurrying through your kitchen and darting under the stove and you assume it’s a mouse…..or is it a rat? Mice and rats are often mistakenly seen as interchangeable, and while they do have traits in common, the differences are what will help you identify and control them.
Both rodents carry diseases and destroy property – the main reasons to evict them from your home! Some of the most common diseases associated with rodents are Hantavirus, lymphocytic choriomeningitis, tularemia and plague.
Damage wise, both mice and rats will eat through a variety of materials in your home. From wires to wood, these rodents can chomp their way through just about anything. However, mice don’t have the jaw power that rats possess. Rats can bite through seemingly anything they come across, including cement! Keep this in mind when inspecting your home, as larger damages could be the sign of a rat.
Where you see this damage is important as well. Mice, unlike rats, are expert navigators. They can run, jump, swim, and climb exceptionally well. If you see damage in high spots in your home, such as cabinets or the attic, there’s a good chance it is a mouse and not a rat.
Differences & Similarities of Mice and Rats Include:
- Adult mice measure around 7½ inches in length, including the tail; while adult rats can grow up to 18 inches in length, from nose to 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 black, approximately ¼ -inch long with pointed ends and are often found scattered randomly near nesting areas. Rat droppings are longer (3/4 inch), dark brown, tapered and resemble a large grain of rice.
- Both rats and mice are omnivorous but the brown rat and house mouse prefer cereals, while black rats prefer fruit and foods with high moisture content.
- Mice are color blind, but their other senses are sharp; rats have very poor eyesight, but have very strong senses of smell, taste and hearing. Both are nocturnal and forage at night.
- Rats can exhibit aggressive behavior when threatened, usually the result of fear-induced defensive behavior. Unlike rats, mice will avoid humans. They will not attack, but they may bite if handled.
- Mice are afraid of rats because rats will kill and eat mice. Rat odor can be a strong deterrent to mice and affect their behavior.
With their ability to reproduce at incredibly fast rates, time is of the essence when it comes to implementing a rodent management program. The sooner you identify a rodent issue, the better.
Winter is when these critters move indoors to escape the colder temps. Protect your family from the risks associated with these destructive, disease-carrying pests and get an inspection by a rodent control expert.