What Is The Difference Between A Rat and a Mouse?

The most common response from individuals when faced with a rat or a mouse, is to immediately either chase after it to remove it from the premises or to jump up onto a table or chair to avoid coming into contact with it. Despite the fact that both rats and mice have long tails and beady eyes, they are completely different species with a whole host of unique characteristics. In this article, we are going to look at the appearance, size, weight, tail length, preferred habitat, and the behavior of the Norway Rat, the Roof Rat, and the regular house mouse.

Do Rats and Mice Behave Differently Than One Another?

Despite the fact that both of these fall into the rodent category, they do behave differently from one another. Even though rats are larger than mice, they tend to live in fear and are overly cautious with their environment. This means that they will avoid new things that are placed within their habitat, so if you are trying to catch one, you will need to build up to it by allowing the rat to get used to the trap you are setting. Eventually, the rat will dial down the caution which is when you will have an opportunity to catch them. Since rats are generally fearful, they will seek out darker spaces to hide in.

Mice, on the other hand, will explore new things because they are naturally curious and bold. Mice are skillful climbers, so they are more likely to be in attics or on upper floors of buildings. If you are trying to catch a mouse, simply place the trap out and they will investigate. If you don’t catch them within a day or two, it means the trap is in the wrong place.

How to Identify Between a Rat and a Mouse Using Physical Characteristics?

  • House Mouse: a house mouse will have a smaller sized head, tiny feet, and large floppy ears with a triangular snout and long whiskers. They will have a white, brown, or grey coloring to them and will sport long, thin and hairy tails that may be darker in color. Their droppings will be rod-shaped and they will weigh anywhere from 0.5 grams to 15 grams.
  • Roof Rat: a roof rat will have a slender and light body with a pointed snout and large ears that have no hair on them. They will have a gray body with black shading and a darker colored tail. Their coat will be much smoother than a mouse’s and they will generally weigh a lot more than a mouse. Their droppings will be spindle-shaped and they will weigh up to 200 grams.
  • Norway Rat: a Norway rat will have a very thick body that is heavy. They sport a blunted snout, short ears that have dark hair and a tail that is dark on top but pale underneath. Their body coloring is generally brown with black shading and their coat will be shaggy. Their droppings will be capsule shaped and they will weigh up to 300 grams.

In addition to having different physical characteristics, the rat and mouse also have different genetic DNA. A Norway rat has twenty-two chromosome pairs, while a house mouse only has twenty chromosome pairs.

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Rat and Mice Breeding and Habitat Preferences

When it comes to water and food preferences, rats will choose fresh grains and meat alongside 1/2 an ounce of water a day. A female Norway rat can have up to six litters a year with a maximum of twelve rats per litter. Rats live anywhere from twelve to eighteen months and can begin breeding by the time they are three months of age. They generally breed in the springtime. Rats prefer to burrow underneath buildings, debris, and along fences.

Unlike the rat, a mouse does not need a certain amount of fluid per day nor does it like to eat fresh meat. Instead, a mouse will go for cereal type grains and plants as their food source. Mice like to nest rather than burrow, so they will find soft materials to make a nest for themselves. A female mouse can have up to ten litters of five to six young per year. The offspring can begin producing at the age of six weeks and will live for nine to twelve months.

In Conclusion

As you can see, mice and rats are quite different both in their physical and biological makeup as well as their eating and habitat preferences. If you are unsure of which type of rodent you have come across, just keep in mind that rats will be quite large and will have coarse fur while a mouse will be much smaller and will be more naturally curious of your surroundings.