Difference Between Rat and Mouse

Difference Between Rat and Mouse

The main difference between rat and mouse is size. Rats are medium-sized rodents with long, slender, and thin tails, while mice are small, sparrow-sized rodents with long, slender tails.

Have common rodents infected your home’s attics, basements, and cabinets? Are you trying to figure out whether they are rats or mice? There are other critical differences between rats and mice besides their physical variations. 

No matter what the rodent is, homeowners need to know the distinction between them. When you understand each of these pests, you will be most effective in getting rid of the rodents with the help of pest control. Dive right in to know more.

What is a Rat?

Rats are medium-sized rodents with long, slender, and thin tails. Rats refer to a wide variety of rat species or classifications, including kangaroo rats, cotton rats, Norway rats, etc. There’s a chance that these many rodent species aren’t even remotely related.

Signs of a rat infestation include droppings, chewing marks, footprints, runways, and burrows. Rats, like mice, are nocturnal animals with very weak eyesight but excellent hearing, taste, and smell capabilities.

What is a Mouse?

Mice are small, sparrow-sized rodents with long, slender tails. Similar to rats, several rodents known as mice may or may not be related to one another. Rats scare mice because they will kill and devour them. 

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The smell of rats can strongly repel mice and impact their behavior. Their scent is smoky, and cannot see color, but they have keen hearing, smell, taste, and touch capabilities. You can find mice indoors and outside in urban and rural settings.

Difference Between Mouse and Rat

Bigger in SizeSizeSmaller in Size
Larger droppingsDroppingsSmaller droppings
Can swim and climb but will reside closer to home or burrowMovementMice can swim, climb, and leap on all types of surfaces
Short, wide, and huge in relation to the bodyHeadSmall, triangular, and body-relatively diminutive
Smaller compared to the headEyesA little bit larger relative to the rat’s
Tiny earsEarsLarge ears
The rat tail is thicker and largerTailA mouse’s tail is short and thin
Rats create extensive, deep holesBurrowsMice seldom dig deeply, and even when they do, they typically only get about a foot down
2 years to 3 years.Lifespan1.5 years to 2.5 years.

Difference Between Rat and Mouse Explained


Most individuals can quickly distinguish between a mouse and an adult rat based on size when they see one. Seeing a baby brown rat or a giant mouse is not quite as simple. Mice are typically much smaller than rats, measuring between 12 cm to 20 cm, compared to 40 cm for rats. 

Mice have much smaller heads compared to rats. Mouse heads are small, triangular, and have pointed snouts, whereas rat heads are large, blunt, and chunky. Additionally, compared to the head’s size, rat ears are shorter than mouse ears.

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Rats have larger bodies, but smaller eyes and ears relative to their head size compared to mice.


Although rat and mice feces resemble one another, rat feces are bigger than mouse feces and tend to have much more rounded ends. Mouse poop has sharper edges. 

Rat excretions usually are 7 to 19 mm long, but the excretions left by the mouse are typically 4 to 7 mm long. Both have dark hues. The presence of moisture indicates that the mouse droppings you observe are recent. Dried or powdery droppings indicate that they are old. 


Rats may enter a structure through a hole just half an inch wide. Rats are swimmers and are able to reside in sewers. They can also get into buildings through damaged drains or toilets. A rat will climb to get a meal, water, or shelter. 

Rats travel along predictable routes every day. It will take every precaution to avoid any other things placed in its path. Rats often remain 300 feet or less away from their home or burrow.

Mice’s tails allow them to stand upright on their hind legs. They do this to hunt, battle, or locate themselves. Mice can even leap or swim, and they’re good climbers. They can even climb even on rugged, steep surfaces.

They can run along lines, cables, and ropes and jump 13 inches high. Mice can sprint. They walk on all fours, holding their tail straight up for balance. However, if they feel threatened, they will flee.

Physical Appearance

Rats often have coarser fur than mice, who typically have softer fur. House mice have hair ranging from light brown to gray to black, with paler bellies. The rough brown fur of a Norway rat has a lighter underbelly.

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In addition to being smaller than rats, mice naturally weigh less. Rats weigh between 350 and 650 g, and mice weigh between 30 to 90 g. Rats tend to appear bigger than mice.

Mice have larger eyes and smaller, more triangular heads compared to rats.


In her lifespan, a female mouse may give birth to more than 300 young, who can begin mating as soon as four weeks after birth. This implies that a single mouse in a house can quickly turn into a significant infestation issue. Similarly, a couple of rats can multiply into up to 2,000 rats in a single year. 

Lifespan And Eating Habits

Even though both are omnivores, rats and mice often have a variety of dietary preferences or food sources. Mice will consume meat, but they prefer to eat cereals, veggies, fruits, nuts, and seeds. If they are starving, mice have even been known to devour their tails and the corpses of other mice! 

Larger foods like preserved meats, cheeses, or dry pet food are what rats frequently consume. Rats typically survive two to three years, compared to mice’s 1.5 to 2.8 years.

Which is More Dangerous: Rat or Mouse?

It makes no difference if you have mice or rats in your house. These two rodents have distinct issues that might affect your family and home. Rats might be more aggressive and bigger than adult mice. They may even bite if they feel threatened.

How to Keep Rats and Mice Out

Ensure your trash is inside the garbage can and adequately wrapped in a bag before being used for rodent control. Additionally, spraying your garbage can from time to time with a 10% bleach solution can confuse their sense of smell. 

If you don’t properly prepare your garbage cans, each bin is like a bird feeder. Just as birds locate the seeds you put out for them, rats will find the food scraps you carelessly dispose of, luring them into your house and leading to a significant rodent problem.


Vanessa is passionate about written communication, especially after beginning her career as a middle school English teacher. She’s an experienced content marketer as well. Vanessa loves to analyze, compare, and contrast, which is why she writes for ContrastHub. Besides writing, Vanessa is a wife, mom, entrepreneur, spicy food enthusiast, comedy nerd and lifelong learner.

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