Did you know that there are multiple breeds of rats like there are dogs? Of course, we all know rats can come in different sizes, but another common mistake made by homeowners is mistaking small rats for mice and vice versa.
We will review the differences between the two to confidently decide what you saw in your house and what you need to do next.
Comparing the Rat against the Mouse
Let’s break down the comparison to how they are similar, what their habits are, what they look like, and that kind of damage you can anticipate your Pest Management Professional to report after you call them to come to take care of your rodent problem.
How They are Similar
All rodents will have two pairs of incisor teeth. These are teeth that continually grow in their lifetime and are located on the upper and lower jaw. One thing that is similar to owned rodents is that they will chew on wood, plastic, etc., to grind these down and for enrichment (they enjoy chewing).
They will both have a long tail and short legs.
Rats and mice will rely on their other senses since their eyesight is not excellent. Mice, in particular, are colorblind.
They both will carry diseases, germs, and bacteria. You will know that one of them has been there with small oval droppings and marks in the area from the chewing that was mentioned earlier.
If you can take a closer look (you have trapped or killed them), you will be able to see some differences.
Habits and Lifestyle
Mice will breed and populate more rapidly with 7-8 litters per year with 4-16 offspring per litter. They will build nests in burrows. They do not need much food and water to survive, typically taking in 1/10th of an ounce of food and water in a day.
Rats will take in more food and water at an ounce and 1-2 ounces, respectively, per day. They only have 3-5 litters per year and 5-10 offspring per litter.
Rats’ droppings will be on average 7-10x larger than mice’s droppings – mice will be in the mm range, and rats will be in the cm range. With this in mind, mice will defecate twice as much as their rat counterparts.
Mice are easier to catch in a trap due to their social, territorial, and curious personalities. Both will be nocturnal and out and about while you sleep.
Mice will have thin hair on the tail, but a rat’s tail is thick with no hair whatsoever. On the other end of the rodent, mouse ears are more significant than the rat counterpart. The house mice have more pointed snouts and whiskers, but rat faces have blunt noses. Rats are typically 3-10 times larger than mice as well.
Mice will come in fewer colors, not including black, and the color is lighter on the belly.
Rats cannot stand on their hind legs and the mouse, but they can for a moment when needed. Mice are also more agile in being able to jump up just over 1 foot!
We have all seen the stereotypes with rats living in sewers, but they love to enter the home through broken toilets, busted drains, or swimming up the gutters. Unfortunately, these rodents follow habits and will develop a daily routine as well.
How They Can Harm Your Home
Considering that mice have smaller teeth, they will do minor damage – but that doesn’t mean NO harm, though. Rats have teeth that can chew through wood, some glass, and some types of metal (i.e., aluminum).
They will carry some bacteria and viruses, with mice spreading through urine (remember that they aren’t potty trained). Rats are a common way that pests are spread. Parasites such as ticks and fleas are common, though lice are species-specific and shouldn’t bother anyone in the household.
Ticks go to any mammal – your dogs, cats, children, and YOU! – and carry some terrible diseases. Some are zoonotic, meaning that they infect people and animals (i.e., Ehrlichia, anaplasmosis, tularemia, etc.).
Fleas may harbor Dipylidum caninum, a tapeworm that is very easy to spread amongst pets.
When Do You Need to Call Someone?
The most significant thing we need to consider is that rats and mice were not invited and are not welcome in your home. Therefore, it would be best if you had pest control.
Starting by de-cluttering and cleaning your home of food sources, you should also eliminate entry points for them and consider the different types of traps you can utilize.
When or if it gets to be too much, there are skilled and experienced technicians at University Termite and Pest Control who are just a call or click away from getting rid of your pests for you.
For other common questions regarding rats in the SW, check this out and reach out to us to stop and prevent the extensive home damage they can cause.