The Difference Between Rats and Mice


A rodent infestation is never pleasant. Regardless of the species. Treating an infestation is hard enough. However, not knowing if it’s a family of rats or mice, makes it impossible. Below we have listed the differences between rats and mice.

The difference between rats and mice appearance

Rats and mice look different. Although, to a layman, the differences may be slight. Especially, if you are seeing baby rats. Baby rats are frequently mistaken for mice. The biggest difference between the two is that adult rats are significantly bigger than mice. Measuring roughly 40 cm long. Whereas adult mice are at most 10 cm long. Additionally, a mouse tail is longer than its head and body. Unlike a rats tail, which is shorter.

Distinguishing between mice and baby rats can be trickier. Firstly, a mouse has larger ears in comparison to its body. Secondly, a baby rat has larger feet and a larger head. And lastly, mice are more grey than brown with a lighter coloured belly. While rats are more brownish-grey

Brown Rat
Brown Rat
Mice Control Solutions
House Mouse

The difference between their eating and drinking habits

Rats and mice have similar eating habits. Both eat pretty much anything but prefer cereals. Additionally, both frequent the same places in search of food. However, water is where they differ. Mice do not require much water. As they get sufficient water from the food they eat. If water is available, they will drink about 3mls per day. But they can survive for months without directly consuming water. On the other hand, rats require water daily. Which is one of the reasons they thrive in sewers. Rats drink between 20 to 30 ml of water per day.

The difference between rats and mice droppings

Rodent droppings differ in size, shape and quantity. Meaning you can identify a rodent infestation from droppings alone. Rat droppings are dark brown, between 10 mm – 20 mm in size are resemble a large grain of rice. Mouse droppings are black in colour and a lot smaller. Measuring 8 mm at most. Rats defecate roughly 40 times per day. Typically in the same spot. Whereas mice defecate twice as much. However, mice droppings tend to be more scattered than rats.

The difference between their nesting habits

Rats live and travel through sewers. And typically gain access to a property through drains. Looking for food and shelter. Rats nest underground in burrows. If you have a rodent issue, look for burrow holes in your garden. This will confirm a rat infestation. Mice living outdoors make their own nest from found materials. Such as paper, cloth, sticks, leaves etc. Like rats, they enter properties in search of food and shelter. Utilising open doors, or holes in walls. Once inside, they will stay there. Making a nest in a warm, unoccupied space.

Have a rodent infestation?

So, you have a rodent infestation, but you are unsure if it is rats or mice? Firstly, complete a thorough home inspection. Inside and out. Search in attics, garages, sheds, presses and storage areas. Look for droppings, indoor nests made from paper materials, outdoor burrow holes and entry points. Then, use our flow chart to help determine if you have a rat or mouse infestation. 

Contact Ultimate Pest Control

If you need our help, identifying or treating a rodent infestation, contact us today!