Difference Between Rats vs Mice

mouse-01Both rats and mice are found in nearly every region throughout the world. These invasive pests can chew straight through wooden structures to gain access into homes, garages, basements, storage sheds, and even attics. Once they find a nice warm place to settle down, they’ll continue to reproduce while feasting on nearby food and soiling the place with their disease-carrying feces and urine.

It’s a common assumption that rats and mice refer to the same bothersome pest, but this isn’t the case. While there are some obvious similarities between the two, there are also some notable differences that shouldn’t be overlooked. Whether you are currently experiencing an infestation or not, it’s important to know and understand the differences between rats and mice. Only then can you take the necessary steps to remove them and prevent them from coming back.

Rats And Mice Are Not Scientific Names

You might be surprised to learn that “rats” and “mice” are common names — not scientific — used to describe rodents. There are around 50+ different species of rats and 30+ species of mice, all of which have their own unique physical attributes. With that said, there are some general characteristics that distinguish the rat and mouse group.

Size Difference

The primary difference between rats and mice is size. It’s not uncommon for a typical household rat to stretch over 12″ long! Thankfully, mice usually only reach sizes of 3-4″, making them easier to manage.

One of the reasons why rats are able to stretch to over a foot in length is because of their tail. Rats possess long, slender tails that are actually longer than their head and body combined. Mice, on the other hand, have shorter tails that are only an inch or two in size. You can usually identify a rodent as either a mouse or rat based strictly on its size.


Homeowners may occasionally hear squeaking coming from the source of a rodent infestation, but it’s usually the ‘scampering’ of tiny rodent feet running in the attic that’s a dead giveaway. Rodents are nocturnal, meaning they come out at night in search of food. You may hear them running the ceilings and attic during the early morning and late evening hours.

Due to their heavier weight and larger body size, rats produce a louder, more prominent noise than their counterpart. This is a tall-tale sign of a rat infestation.

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