Mice vs Rats – Different Pests With Similar Behaviors

When you hear rustling noises or see small droppings on your kitchen floor, there is a high probability you have rodents. But is it mice or rats? And how afraid should you be? Although neither is safe to have in your home, knowing which one you are dealing with can help you determine how to get rid of it and how urgent the challenges are.

Physical Differences Between Rodents

In Northern Virginia, the rodent species that infest local homes are the house mouse, the Norway rat, and the roof rat. You can often identify which one is in your home by observing their:

  • Size – House mice are small with a body between 2 and 4 inches long. Roof rats are between 6 and 8 inches long, and Norway rats are between 7 and 10 inches long. The tail on each rodent is approximately the length of their body.
  • Shape – Rats tend to be longer while mice are round in shape. Mice have a pointed snout and large round ears. Rats have a blunt snout.
  • Coloring – House mice are light brown or grey with a softer fur that often extends onto their tails. Rats have scaly, bald tails and coarser fur. Rats also have brown or darker fur with a few spots of black coloring.

The location where you find rodents or the signs of them – droppings, tracks, and gnaw marks – can also indicate where one is present. Roof rats live in elevated spaces, often in attics or behind walls. Norway rats live mostly in basements and lower levels. Mice will live in close proximity to their food source and build a nest there out of shredded paper or cloth, but can live in both the higher and lower areas of the property. 

How Do Mice and Rats Behave

Mice are curious animals. When something new appears in their environment, they will go to investigate. When they feel threatened, however, they will typically flee rather than try to fight back. Mice are also more enthusiastic chewers than rats, although both will chew. Mice like to eat plants and grains the most, but can eat anything under the right circumstances.

Rats take more time to adjust to new things in their environment and naturally follow routine pathways. Since they are larger in size, they are better able to defend themselves by biting or scratching if you enter their space or threaten their young. While rats will also eat anything, grains and meat are their preferences.

Why Is It Important to Know the Difference Between Rats and Mice?

There is no rodent invader that is safe to have in your home. Both mice and rats can spread diseases and cause damage to your property. But knowing exactly what kind of rodent pest is making those rustling noises behind your walls makes it easier to target the rodent removal methods. 

If you have rats, larger traps – and giving the rats some time to get used to the traps – can be necessary. For mice, placement and the right bait should lead to fast trapping, and the traps can be smaller and out of the way.

When you work with ExtermPRO for rodent control, we take care of identifying the rodents living in your home and implementing the methods that will get rid of rodents fast and completely. Call us to find out more about our rodent removal options.


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