Mouse or Rat? How to Tell the Difference—and Which is Worse

If you are like most of us, the sight of any rodent in or around your home is means for concern. But if you spot one, try watching for certain characteristics to make getting rid of a mouse or rat infestation easier. As providers of rodent control in Manteca, CA, we’re happy to share tips on how to tell if you have rats or mice.

Is it a Mouse or Rat?

If you’re unlucky enough to see a rodent scurrying through or near the house, you may not care to take a closer look. Learning how to tell if you have rats or mice can help you get rid of an infestation. Both rodent types can be dangerous; they’re avid chewers and can cause fires by gnawing on electrical wiring. Mouse or rat droppings can sicken humans. Rats are more aggressive and can cause rat bite fever or Hantavirus.

Mice and rats are both nocturnal and sport long, thin tails. Both types of rodent can be brown, gray or black in color. Luckily, mice and rats have many different characteristics to help you tell them apart.

How to Tell if You Have Rats or Mice

The most obvious difference is the mouse’s smaller size. With bodies sometimes exceeding a foot long, rats can be up to twice the size of mice. Mice have pointier snouts and long whiskers; rats’ snouts are more blunt. Mice have hairy tails while rats’ tails have scales but no hair. Mice have bigger, floppier ears.

Just be aware that size isn’t the only way to determine between the two—young rats can pass for mice due to their small size. But the head proportions are different: rats have larger heads and feet in proportion to their bodies, while mice generally have larger ears in proportion to their bodies.

Rodent Habits and Habitats

Rat hair can be greasy enough to leave a trail as they slither along floors. Instead of grease marks, mice may leave behind small pillars formed from body grease, urine and dirt. Mice nest in underground burrows. Brown rats live on the ground or in burrows; black rats are good climbers and build nests beneath roofs and in other high places.

Mouse droppings, found near their nests, are smaller, black and rice-like. Brown rats, or Norway rats, leave behind tapered, dark-brown pellets. Black rats, also called ship rats, leave banana-shaped droppings with curved ends. If you do spot droppings, be sure not to touch them or go near them – it is best to call a professional to investigate further with proper PPE.

Rats or Mouse, Advanced IPM Can Help

If you see signs of an infestation, get help right away. Whether you have a mouse or rat problem, your household or business can be exposed to health and hazards. Advanced IPM provides environmentally conscious, reliable rodent control in Manteca, CA, and other parts of Northern California and Nevada. Call us today or contact us online for a free quote.