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There are over 35 diseases that rodents can transmit to humans, both directly and indirectly. The two biggest rodent problems in homes are mice and rats. 

But there is a difference between mice and rats. Even if they look similar, they can still cause difference damage and transfer different diseases.

If you have a rodent problem in your home or office, it's a good idea to learn the difference between mouse vs rat. That way, you can take care of the problem for good. 

Keep reading to learn why the difference between rat and mouse and why it matters to you. 

The Difference Between Mouse Vs Rat

While there are many different types of mouse species, there are three most common types found in the United States:

  1. House Mouse
  2. Deer Mouse
  3. White-Footed Mouse

House Mouse

House mice love eating cereal and can eat up to three grams of it per day. They also don't need much water to survive. House mice also closely resemble young brown rats but with smaller heads and feet along with larger eyes and ears. 

House mice love to burrow and are efficient breeders. They can produce 4-16 mice per litter and reproduce up to eight times per year. 

Deer Mouse

Deer mice or field mice are commonly found in wooded areas. But they are known to venture into buildings located near wooded areas. 

They are destructive to wood and harmful to humans since they're a leading carrier of the hantavirus. Deer mice are usually a pale gray color with white fur on their belly. Their tail is usually bi-colored and is longer than half the length of their body. 

Deer mice typically live between 2-14 months but have been known to live up to five to eight years in captivity. They're also excellent climbers, are nocturnal, and tend to wander indoors during the colder months

White Footed Mouse

The white-footed mouse is most commonly found in the eastern and western parts of the US. You'll find them from Maine to Alabama and around in Montana, Colorado, and Arizona. 

They're small rodents that are usually around four inches tall. You'll recognize them by their white feet and bellies. Their upper parts tend to range from grayish to reddish brown. 

White-footed mice live near forests, brushlands, and bordering agricultural lands. 


Rats have long born the responsibility for spreading the plague that killed millions during the Black Death in the 14th century. But now scientists believe the true culprit were humans themselves. 

However, that doesn't mean that rats don't carry diseases and cause structural damage to homes and offices. While there are many different types of rats, the biggest culprits are the roof rat and the Norway rat. 

Norway Rats

Norway rats or the house rat are usually around 10 inches long. They have brown coats with coarse fur and shorter tails that only grow between four and eight inches. 

They are more robust than a roof rat but with smaller eyes and ears. They have brown coats with coarse fur. 

Norway rats invade homes and yards through burrowing. They tend to destroy foundations, sidewalks, patios, and structures. 

Roof Rats

Roof rats are slightly smaller than the Norway rat. They grow to about eight inches in length. 

Roof rats are also known as black rats since they're black in color with lighter fur on their belly. They also have long, scaly tails that grow to around 10 inches long. 


Roof rats, as their name suggests, hang out on rooftops and attics. They love to destroy walls, pipes, insulation, and wiring. 

How to Tell the Difference between Rat Vs Mouse by Their Droppings

Since most mice and rats tend to be nocturnal, you may only notice them when you find food missing or with bites taken out of fruit or cereal. You also may notice only when you discover they've destroyed a part or parts of your property. 

Black and Brown Rat Droppings

Brown rat droppings are dark brown in color and typically look like a large grain of rice. Black rat droppings are long, thin, with pointed ends. They're also smaller than brown rat droppings. 

Mouse Droppings

Mice tend to scatter their droppings randomly. These droppings are around 3-8mm in length. 

They're granularly shaped, black in color, and are most commonly found near their nesting areas. 

Why Knowing the Difference Matters

You can't catch a roof rat by setting a trap on the floor. And if you set a small mousetrap for a large brown rat, it probably won't work very well. 

It's important to understand the difference in behavior between mice and rats. This will help you get rid of your infestation. 

Mouse Vs Rat Behavior

Rats are careful and avoid new things until they're used to them. In order to trap them, you'll need to place unset traps in their path first before setting the traps. Otherwise, you'll never capture them. 

Mice, however, are naturally curious. They love investigating new things so placing a set trap in their path immediately will help you capture them. If you don't capture a mouse within a few days of setting a trap, it's a sign it's in the wrong place. 

You can also use peppermint oil to keep mice away from areas that have yet been infiltrated. Glue traps, snap traps, and mouse bait stations are all effective strategies for getting rid of mice. 

Their Diets

Mice love eating cereal, grains, and plants and they tend to set up camp near their food source. They're also great at swimming, jumping, and climbing.

Rats prefer to dine on meat and fruits, though they're known to eat anything they can get their hands on like the infamous pizza rat. Rats are also excellent at swimming and climbing. 

How to Prevent Infestations

Whether you have rats or mouse problems, you should perform an annual inspection of your building to find structural cracks or crevices. Seal them with caulk or steel wool. 

Keep all areas in and around your home free from clutter. It's also wise to eliminate excess moisture from your home to prevent them from accessing a drinking source. 

Keep your food in airtight containers and immediately remove any garbage from your home. 

Stay Safe by Contacting Us

When it comes to mouse vs rat, both carry diseases so it's important you take proper safety precautions when handling dead rodents. And if you have a serious infestation, it's a good idea to call in the professionals.

We know how to remove infestations safely. We can also help ensure that you never experience another infestation again. Contact us today to help you live rodent free

Get Started With Reynolds Pest Management, Inc. Today

(844) 326-3100

Are you in need of quality residential or commercial pest control? Reach out to Reynolds Pest Management!

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