What Are the Differences Between Mice and Rats?

Israel Alvarez
Israel Alvarez

Owner @ Insight Pest Management

Table of Contents

Rats and mice are two visually distinct species, but the differences do not end there. Understanding these differences can help you better pinpoint the dangers of an infestation, its spread, and the best control methods that you can use against it. The two most common species of these rodents in the Us are the Norway rat and the house mouse. In this article, we’re going to cover the differences between these two.


While appearance is the most striking and noticeable difference between the two species, behavior may be one of the most important. Rats are a very cautious species, and will opt to avoid any new objects that are put in their path. It takes time for a rat to trust anything new in its environment, and due to this behavioral trait, you will have to place unset traps in your home in order to gain the rat’s trust.

Mice on the other hand are a curious pest, and they will jump at the opportunity to investigate anything new in their environment. This means that you can lay down a trap and expect to catch a mouse in a few days. In fact, if the trap is not set within a short period of time, it means that it needs to be relocated.


Now, let’s take a look at the visual characteristics of these two species. The house mouse has large ears, a pointed snout, small feet and a tiny head, with a light brown fur and a dark tail. An adult house mouse will weigh around 0.5 ounces, and their droppings look like black rice.

The Norway rat is much bigger than a house mouse with a thick body, short ears and a blunt snout. Their fur is dark brown with some black shading, and the coat has a very shaggy appearance. An adult Norway rat will weigh about 11 ounces, and their droppings have the shape of a capsule.

Habitat and breeding

Mice will look for food sources and build their nests as close as possible to these sources. Their diet mainly consists of grains and plants, and they will use any soft material that they can get their paws on for their nests. A female mouse can give birth to as many as sixty babies in a year, at a rate of six mice per birth. Furthermore, a mouse reaches the reproductive age at six weeks, and they live for about 12 months.

Rats prefer to eat meat and grain, but they will eat just about everything. They also need one ounce of fluid each day. Rats will burrow under buildings, fences, debris and plants either to nest or to travel, and in a home, they will nest in the walls, basement or attic. A female Norway rat will give birth to around 70 rats each year, which will reach the reproductive age at three months old. A rat will live up to 18 months.

Dealing with a rodent infestation

Both rats and mice can be dealt with DIY in the beginning stages of an infestation, if the species is properly identified. However, as soon as the infestation starts to grow, you will need the help of a professional. If you notice a mouse infestation in your home, contact us today.

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Our expert technicians work to ensure that all potential pest entry points are sealed and offer routine treatment options to help ensure your home or business stays protected from future infestations. You don’t have to share your home or business with pests any longer! If you live in the Ventura County area, let the team at Insight Pest Management help you say goodbye to pests once and for all!

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