Mouse vs Rat: 5 Differences Explained

Mouse vs Rat: 5 Differences Explained

As members of the rodent family, mice and rats look very similar and are often mistaken for one another. Both are harmful, transmitting serious diseases to humans and pets, contaminating surfaces in our home, and chewing through structures and wires, causing damage and putting you at risk for fires. How do you know if you are dealing with a mouse vs rat? Here are 5 key differences between these two rodents.

Physical Appearance

Mice are noticeably smaller than rats, growing 3 to 4 inches in length. Mice weigh anywhere from 0.5 oz to 3 oz. A mouse’s tail is equal in length to its body and is thin, long, and covered in hair. Mice have small heads and large ears with pointy, triangular snots and smooth fur. Mice can be white, gray, or brown in color. Rats, on the other hand, are much larger, measuring 9″ to 11″ in length and weighing anywhere from 12 oz to 1.5 lbs. A rat’s tail can be 7″ to 9″ in length and is long, thick, scaly, and hairless. Rats have small ears and large heads with blunt snouts. They have coarse fur that can be dark brown or multicolored.

Droppings

Mice have smaller droppings, about 1/4″ in length. Mice droppings are black with pointed ends and resemble a grain of rice. Mice can leave up to 100 droppings at a time. Rat droppings are larger with an elongated oval shape. These droppings are about 3/4″ long, black in color, and resemble a banana. Rats can leave up to 50 droppings at a time. Rodent droppings of both species are known to carry diseases that can be harmful to humans.

Diet

While both species are omnivores, their diets tend to vary. Mice commonly eat fruit, seeds, and plants. In your home they may nibble on bread crumbs or other cereals and grains. Their palates are not as wide as rats. Mice can also survive on 3 mL of water per day. Rats, on the other hand, will eat almost anything, even scavenging through your garbage for fruit, eggs, meat, and other leftovers. They will also eat plants and seeds. Rats need anywhere from 15 to 60 mL of water per day.

Habitat

While both rats and mice will come into your home, they tend to frequent different areas once inside. Mice can be found in garages, under trees, under decks, and in walls and other voids that are too small for other rodents to get into. The species of rat you are dealing with determines where they prefer to live. Norway rats can be found in sewers, inside walls, and in cellars. They prefer lower levels of your home to reside in. Roof rats prefer higher environments, often being found in cabinets and attics.

Behavior

Mice are nocturnal animals. They are timid but social within their own populations. They are very territorial and more curious than rats, making them easier to trap. They are skillful climbers and can access areas rats can’t because of their small size. Rats are also nocturnal but are more cautious and fearful of new things than mice are, making them more difficult to trap. Rats are also skillful climbers. Both rats and mice will gnaw through structures and wiring in your home, causing damage and putting you at risk for fire. Mice have weaker teeth and can’t chew through glass or metal to get to food. Rats have much stronger jaws and have been known to chew through wood, glass, sheet metal, aluminum, and even cinder blocks.

Regardless of which pest you are dealing with, proper identification and treatment is essential to eliminating them. Contact your local pest control company who can determine which type of pest you have and set you up with the appropriate rodent control plan to eliminate them.

 

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Signs of a Mouse Infestation

Signs of a Mouse Infestation

Mice are incredibly resourceful as they can quickly adapt to new environments. Small in size, these pests are looking for a warm place to shelter and provide a food source. If these rodents make it indoors, they can cause significant damage to your home. Here we list the major signs of mice in your home and how you can prevent them.

Seeing holes, tears, and gnaw marks is a major sign that mice are indoors. You can typically see this damage in bedding, clothing, fabrics, and other materials. Mice will use these shredded fabrics to help build their nests, usually located in dark, secluded areas. These pests will also chew and leave gnaw marks on inedible materials such as wood, plastic, cables, and electrical wiring.

A more obvious sign of a mouse infestation is hearing noises throughout the night. Mice can fit through holes and openings smaller than their bodies. Using their ability to fit through the smallest hole, they will often use the spaces between joists to travel from one part of the house to the other. If a mouse has gotten inside the walls, you’ll often hear scratching or scrabbling noises.

Another alarming sign that a mouse is inside is seeing their feces. Mouse droppings are around three to six millimeters or ¼ inch in length. They typically resemble small grains of rice and sometimes can be mistaken for cockroach droppings. If you see mouse droppings, it’s best to carefully pick them up with gloves and place them in a sealed plastic bag to ensure they don’t release bacteria or virus particles.

To help prevent mice, place the preventative measures below throughout your house.

  • Seal any cracks and holes on the exterior of your home with caulk.
  • Keep your basements, crawlspaces, and attics clean, decluttered, and dry.
  • Clean up any spills and crumbs immediately, vacuuming and sweeping often.
  • Don’t leave food out overnight, including pet food outside.

If you notice any signs of mice inside your house, consider reaching out to your local pest control provider, where they will provide you with the best plan of action.

Can You Have Rats and Mice at the Same Time?

Can You Have Rats and Mice at the Same Time?

Rats and mice are both rodents and while they are often mistaken for each other, the similarities really end there. These two pests don’t breed with each other and typically nest in different places. If a population is big enough that the two species cross paths on a regular basis and the food sources nearby are plentiful, then they can inhabit the same area at the same time; this is rare, however. Most often they are competing for the same food and rats will kill mice instead. In fact, mice and rats give off very distinctive odors and mice will flee when they smell rats nearby.

Rats vs mice can be confusing and the two are often mistaken for each other when they infest your home.

Mice are much smaller than rats, usually only 2″ to 4″ long. They typically have lighter brown coloring and dark tails. Their ears are proportionately larger when compared to their body size than those of rats. Mice have wide, blunt snouts, small feet, and small, beady eyes. They prefer to eat grains and plants but will eat leftover food and garbage if inside. They can also go long periods of time without water. They typically nest in hidden areas near their food sources (e.g. your kitchen). They produce more droppings per day than rats (70-150) but their droppings are smaller in size and usually scattered throughout the house. They are more curious than rats and easier to trap.

Rats are much larger than mice, usually ranging from 8″ to 10″ in length. They also have much darker coloring. Their ears are proportionately smaller when compared to their body size than their mice cousins. They have sharp, narrow snouts, large hind feet, and large, prominent eyes. Rats are omnivores and will eat anything they find, including meat. They require regular amounts of drinking water than mice do. Depending on the species, rats also nest in different areas than mice. Norway rats will often dig under buildings, along fences, and hide under debris and landscaping. Roof rats will typically nest in higher locations (e.g. roofs, attics, and rafters). Rats produce larger feces (about 2 cm in size). Rats are more cautious than mice and can be more difficult to trap. They are also strong swimmers.

Both rats and mice are dangerous to humans. Risks of a rodent infestation of any kind include gnawing through surfaces, insulation, and wires; contaminating surfaces with urine and droppings; and carrying and transmitting harmful pathogens like salmonellosis, plague, and trichinosis.

The best treatment against a rodent infestation is to prevent them in the first place. Here are some of our top rodent prevention tips you can utilize in your home.

  1. Clean up spilled food immediately.
  2. Put away all food at night, including pet food and bird feeders.
  3. Keep food, including pet food and bird seed, in sealed, airtight containers.
  4. Keep garbage can lids tightly sealed.
  5. Declutter your attic and basement, especially anything made of cardboard.
  6. Store any items you can on shelves rather than in the floor.
  7. Keep your yard clear of debris.
  8. Keep grass and shrubs cut short.
  9. Trim shrubs and trees away from the sides of your home.
  10. Store firewood off the ground and a safe distance from your home.
  11. Repair holes in your foundation, garage, and interior walls and any gaps in your roof.
  12. Seal any openings larger than 1/4″.
  13. Use rubber seals under garage doors.
  14. Use door sweeps on exterior doors.
  15. Use weatherstripping around windows and doors.
  16. Use screens that are in good repair on doors and windows.
  17. Seal around pipes, drains, and vents.
  18. Use chimney caps.

If you suspect a problem with rodents or any other pest, contact your local pest control company who can help identify which rodent you are dealing with and set you up with the most appropriate rodent control plan for your situation.

 

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Where Do Rodents Go In Winter?

Where Do Rodents Go In Winter?

A common myth is that rodents like rats, mice, and even squirrels hibernate in the winter. Unfortunately for us, this is not true. While their activity may slow down while outside in the colder months, rodents are actually active year-round. Rodents can survive a wide range of places and climates. They are also known to carry diseases that can easily be spread to humans. Rodent-borne diseases like hantavirus and salmonella can be serious when contracted by people.

Rodents have developed several survival mechanisms to get through the winter.

Increasing Food Intake

In late summer and fall, rodents will start gathering as much food as possible to store in their burrows and nests for the winter. While they don’t hibernate, they will stockpile resources to help limit the number of times they have to venture out in the cold in search of food. They also have to increase the amount of food they eat to help retain their body temperature.

Burrowing

Rodents need a warm place to spend the winter. Like other overwintering pests, they will try and access your home to seek shelter from the cold. Rats, in particular, are capable of chewing through cinder blocks, lead, glass, aluminum, vinyl, brick, and even concrete in order to access your home. If they can’t get indoors, they are also great at digging tunnels and will burrow for shelter, usually under walls or near utility lines that come into your home.

Taking Advantage of Opportunities

Rodents are extremely creative when it comes to survival. They can adapt to most any situation. Our homes provide the ideal opportunity for rodents to overwinter by providing convenient cavities in walls, attics, crawlspaces, and between floors that protect them from the elements. These hiding spots are usually filled with insulation, as well, which gives them the perfect nesting material. Add in the heat we turn on in the winter and the food crumbs and other food sources we provide and they have an ideal living situation during the winter.

To keep these pests out this winter, try these rodent prevention tips:

  • Empty garbage regularly and put it in cans with tightly fitting lids.
  • Keep your house clean and decluttered.
  • Avoid using open compost piles.
  • Store food in sealed containers.
  • Only leave enough pet food out for one sitting.
  • Keep pets, especially cats, around the house.

If you have a problem with rodents, contact your local pest control company who can help identify the type of rodent you are dealing with and set you up with the appropriate rodent control program.

 

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9 Warning Signs Of A Rodent Infestation

9 Warning Signs Of A Rodent Infestation

Rodents can wreak havoc on your home, chewing through wires and insulation and contaminating surfaces with their urine and feces. Rodents are also known for carrying and transmitting serious diseases to humans. You may not see a live rodent in your home until an infestation is already established. It is important to know the signs of a rodent infestation so you can identify the problem before it gets out of control. Here are 9 warning signs of a rodent infestation to look for in your home.

  1. Rodent droppings around food packages, in drawers and cupboards, and under sinks.
  2. Nesting material such as shredded paper, fabric, string, and dried plant matter.
  3. Signs of chewing on food packaging.
  4. Holes that have been chewed through floors and walls that these critters can use as an entry point.
  5. Stale smells coming from hidden areas of your home such as wall voids, attics, crawlspaces, etc.
  6. Rub marks, which are oily marks left behind where rodents travel along walls.
  7. A strong, musky urine odor.
  8. Scampering, scratching, or gnawing sounds, especially at night.
  9. Unusual pet behavior such as becoming extremely alert or anxious, excessive barking, or pawing at surfaces under appliances or furniture.

Prevention is critical to keeping rodents and other pests from taking over your home. Keep them out of your home with these rodent prevention tips:

  • Seal any holes inside or outside your home with steel wool, lath screen, lath metal, cement, hardware cloth, or metal sheeting. Some common areas to check for holes include in the roof among rafters, gables, and eaves; around windows and doors; around foundations; in attic and crawlspace vents; under doors; around holes for electrical, plumbing, cable, and gas lines; inside and under cabinets; inside closets near floor corners; around fireplaces; around pipes under sinks and washers; around hot water heater and furnace pipes; around floor and dryer vents; in basement and laundry room floor drains; and between floor and wall junctures.
  • Remove potential nesting sites such as leaf piles and deep mulch.
  • Keep garbage in containers with tight-fitting lids.
  • Turn compost piles to cover any newly added food.
  • Bring pet food and water bowls in overnight and empty birdfeeders daily. Try to avoid feeding outdoor birds, if possible, while you have an active infestation.
  • Fix gaps in trailer skirting and use flashing around the base of your home.
  • Store food in thick plastic or metal containers with tight-fitting lids.
  • Keep outdoor cooking areas and grills clean.
  • Elevate woodpiles, hay, and garbage cans at least 1 foot off the ground.
  • Get rid of any old tires, vehicles, etc from your property.
  • Keep your grass mowed short and shrubbery well trimmed, especially if it is within 100 feet of your home.

If you suspect you have a problem with rodents or any other pest, your local pest control company can perform a thorough home inspection which will help determine the type of rodent you are dealing with, their patterns of activity, what’s attracting them to your home, and which treatment method is best for elimination and ongoing prevention.

 

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