The Difference Between Rats and Mice: Why It Matters

Difference between rats and mice

Rats and mice do not just look different. They are quite a few other differences between rats and mice. When tackling an infestation, your efforts will deliver the best results if you understand each of these creatures well.

Roof rats prefer nesting and living high up in a building. So, rat traps placed under storage cabinets or on the floor will not work.

Mouse-traps that can catch mice will be ineffective against larger rats.

Knowing about their eating habits, food preferences, nesting style, physical capabilities, etc. will help aid your rodent control initiatives.

In the United States, most rodent problems have to do with the house mouse, the roof rat, and the Norway rat.

Let’s look at some of the most important differences between rats and mice.

Mouse vs. Rat: Behavior

While mice tend to be more ‘curious,’ rats are more likely to be ‘cautious.’ It’s a major behavioral difference between mice and rats.

Rats are usually careful of anything new in their path. Unless they get familiar with a new object, they avoid getting too close to it.

This is the reason why rodent control specialists first place unset traps in rats’ paths. After a while, rats are no longer shy of unset rat traps. This is when rat traps are finally set.

Mice are curious by nature. They tend to investigate anything new in their paths. So in case of a mice infestation, the traps are set right in the travel path of mice.

If a mousetrap doesn’t catch one in a few days, it’s most likely in the wrong place.

Keep in mind that using rat poison for rodent control without the right knowledge is a bad idea. DIY rodent control methods seldom work.

Mouse vs. Rat: Movement

Mice can jump, swim, and climb. They are fast runners.

Mice can jump nearly 13 inches and even climb up vertical surfaces. They can even run along cables, pipes, ropes, and wires.

With some support from their tails, mice can comfortably stand on their hind legs. Tail-support comes handy when they run or move along narrow passages.

Rats are excellent swimmers. So, they can comfortably live in sewers. If they come across damaged drains or toilets, they can easily enter a building and create a nest in a warm environment where food supply is available.

Rats generally stay within 300 feet of the place where they have their nest.

They explore nearby areas, follow regular paths each day, and avoid anything unfamiliar.

So if rats build a nest in your attic, the whole property is likely to be on their radar.

Mouse vs. Rat: Habitats

Roof rats prefer living high up in a building. So, the roof, attic, walls, upper floors, and trees are their favorite nesting places.

Norway rats, on the other hand, generally prefer to live in lower areas of a building. Often, they live in burrows dug along the foundation, fences, and under debris, plants, etc.

Norway rats and roof rats fight each other to death but they can infest different floors of the one building at the same time.

Understanding these simple facts about rats can help you a great deal in overcoming a rat infestation.

Mice prefer to build their nests in hidden places located close to food sources. Mice can shred cardboard boxes, papers, fabrics, polythene, dry leaves, etc. to build their nest.

Once you identify whether you have a rat or a mouse infestation, you can use this knowledge to come up with an effective rodent control plan.

Mouse vs. Rat: Eating Habits and How they Gain Access to A Building

Rats can nibble on near anything. However, they like fresh grain and meat the most.

Rats need around 0.5 ounces of fluid daily.  If they don’t get the required amount of fluid from foods they find, they look for alternative sources of water.

Rats can squeeze through a hole the size of 0.5 inches in diameter. Mice are smaller in size and can slip through a hole or gap about 0.25 inches wide.

Final Words

Besides common misconceptions, it is important to know how rats and mice nest, move around, find food, and live.

Rats and mice don’t just cause serious damages; they pose numerous health risks too!

One female Norway rat can birth up to six litters of around 12 babies per year. These 70+ rats in turn breed within three months.

One female mouse can breed around ten litters of around 5 babies per year. The offspring can breed in as little six weeks! So when you notice the signs of a rodent infestation, call in the rodent control experts right away. Do not wait for an infestation to get more severe because it will!