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What is the Difference Between Mice and Rats?

Monday, December 15, 2014

The most obvious physical difference between mice and rats is their size, although juvenile rats are often mistaken for mice. But a closer look at these widespread rodents reveals additional distinctions.

One similarity shared by rats and mice is that both can be invasive pests that pose health risks to you and your family. While rats are less common in Colorado than other states, rats and mice alike occasionally establish themselves indoors, where they can cause structural damage and spread disease. If you’re confronted with a rat or mouse infestation, it’s wise to consult with a pest control expert.

Mouse in the House

What are commonly referred to as “house mice” are any of a number of subspecies of Mus musculus. These mice are about 3 to 4 inches in body length and typically have tails that are another 3 to 4 inches.

Mice have narrow, sharp muzzles compared to the broader, blunter muzzles of rats. A mouse’s ears are also slightly larger relative to the size of its head than a rat’s.

Oh, Rats

The most common rat in America is Rattus norvegicus, the brown rat or Norway rat. These rats may be 8 to 11 inches in body length, with tails nearly as long.

Rats have larger feet relative to their body size than house mice, and rats are also significantly heavier. An adult mouse may weigh around 30 grams while an adult rat may weigh more than 10 times that.

Other Differences

House mice vary in color, including white, brown and grey, and they may have patterns or markings in their smooth fur. Rats have coarser coats and may be white, gray, black or brown; rats may leave oily streaks on baseboards or walls.

Although rats and mice share many physiological similarities, rat feces are noticeably larger than mice feces due to their body size. Both rats and mice are omnivores with a preference for grains and other carbohydrate-rich foods, though mice have demonstrated a greater willingness to feed on fruits and vegetables.

While domesticated mice and rats are sometimes maintained as pets, invasive rats and mice can contaminate food, transmit diseases and damage your home or business.

If you need help coping with rats, mice or other pests, please contact Animal & Pest Control Specialist Inc. online or call us at 303-987-0842. We are proud to serve residents of the greater Denver area and along Colorado’s Front Range, from Fort Collins to Castle Rock.

Mice can contaminate food-preperation areas with their feces and can cause severe damage to structures.

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