Can You Tell Your Rats From Your Mice?

If you think you have rodents invading your home, it is important to gauge whether the infestation is caused by rats or mice. Knowing the differences between the two rodents can help you customize your approach to getting them out of your home. Here are a few ways you can determine what’s invading your home.

Rats- Appearance and Preferred Habitat

Rats are usually substantially larger than mice. They are usually between 16 and 40cm in length (depending on the species). Rats have thicker bodies, large feet, and hairless tails. There are also some distinctions between brown and black rats. The easiest one to notice is that the tails on black rats are usually longer than the body; black rats also have larger ears, and a more slender body compared to the brown rat.

In terms of habitat preferences, you can also distinguish which type of rat you’re dealing with by identifying where they have chosen to nest. Black rats tend to nest under roofs or trees, while brown rats tend to prefer burrow on the ground, so you will find them in garages, sheds, or compost piles.


The droppings of the rodents in your home will tell you a lot about what you are dealing with. Mice tend to produce significantly more droppings than rats. They are approximately 1-3mm in length; they are usually black granules, and you will most likely find them near the places they are nesting

Rats, on the other hand, produce banana-shaped droppings that are approximately 3-8mm in length. Brown rats however have droppings the shape of large grains of rice. They produce them at about half the amount of mice.

Can You Tell Your Rats From Your Mice?

Breeding Habits

Rats and mice breed in large litters rather quickly. Newborns are completely reliant on their mothers, since they are born both blind and hairless. Mice will usually give birth to litters of 14-16 pups per liter, with up to 8 liters born a year. Black rats will produce liters of 5-10 pups, while brown rats will have 7-10 per litter. Breeding habits can greatly exacerbate your rodent problem; therefore, if possible, try to identify your rodent and create a plan before too much time passes.

Eating Habits

Rodents in general are not picky eaters; they simply want to consume large amounts of food. However, rats and mice tend to gravitate towards some foods more than others. Both mice and rats prefer grains, such as cereals. They tend to return to the same place once they have found a food source. Mice only need 3ml of water a day to survive, while rats need about 30ml (they may drink up to 60ml).

Black rats are somewhat different, however. They prefer t eat fruit, and they tend to find several different locations to feed from. Because of these eating habits, they can be hard to set bait for, since traps will need to be placed in several different areas, and the food will need to be moist to attract them.

Some methods to identifying your rodent problem are easier than others. If you are unsure about what is creeping through your home, don’t hesitate to contact a professional to assess the issue. Waiting too long to remedy the issue will allow the pest to multiply exponentially, and become harder to remedy.

Having been in the pest control area for more than 10 years, Total Pest Control has a lot of experience in solving pest problems.

F. Aldea is a professional in consumer focus in the online community.

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