Did you see a large rodent scurry away and hide under the closet in your kitchen? It can be a mouse or a rat. There are subtle differences between these two rodents, and you need to be careful in identifying them. Unless you recognize the rodent infesting your house, you will be unable to choose the right solution. You also have to check how serious of a problem you have.

Usually, three types of rodents plague our house – the ordinary house mouse, the Norway rat, or the roof rat. But, how to tell the difference between mice and rats? Learn about mice and rats and the different ways you can identify them. Do you also need solutions for severe rodent infestation in your house? Read on to discover those as well!


Identifying rats vs. mice

Most homeowners will say that rats and mice are the same things, but they are not. Both mice and rats are small, furry and have a long tail. So, what’s the difference between them? The most significant difference is possibly the size of the rodents. The common house rat or Norway rat is much larger than the house mouse.

Apart from that, here are some other differences you can look out for when you are trying to identify rats vs. mice infestation in your house:

  1. Rats have rougher coats of red, brown, or black color and a furless tail. On the contrary, mice have smoother fur, bigger ears, and small black eyes.
  2. Mice droppings are more frequent but smaller in size. You will find them in dark areas where mice can hide. Rats poop less frequently, and their droppings are larger.

These are some of the visible differences between these two rodents. You can learn more about them in our article here.


Signs of infestation

Most house owners only catch glimpses of the rodents in their house when they scurry across their properties. There’s often no time to identify rats vs. mice physically. That’s why you look for other signs.

Let’s talk about the various signs by which you can tell the difference between rats and mice infestation:

1. Droppings

Rodent droppings are usually the easiest way to figure out an infestation in the house. If the droppings you see are smaller than 1/4th of an inch, you have a mice infestation. But if the droppings are larger and about 1/2 an inch in size, you have rats in your house.

Also, remember that mice poop more regularly than rats. So, if you see droppings all over your house and at all times, it’s probably mice that you have.

2. Odor

A nasty odor could mean that you have a rodent infestation. Rat and mouse urine have a strong, pungent smell. The bigger the infestation, the worse the smell.

If you can smell this musky odor, find out where it’s coming from. Look in the darker places of your house, like under the beds and closets. Urine smell is one of the earliest signs of infestation, so don’t ignore it.

3. Gnaw marks

Rodents leave gnaw marks. If you see gnaw marks in your gunny bags or other fabric lying around the house, it means you have a rodent problem. You can easily distinguish between the gnaw marks of mice and rats. If it’s a mice infestation, you will see tinier marks and neatly cut holes. But with rats, the holes are larger and cut more roughly.


Woman suffering from salmonellosis caused by rodents.


Can rodents cause medical problems?

Sometimes mice or rat fur and droppings can trigger severe allergic reactions in human beings. In addition, these rodents can also cause significant medical problems like the following:

  1. According to the CDC, Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome is a respiratory disease that can even be fatal at times. If the rats or mice infesting your property carry the Hantavirus, even breathing the air around their urine or droppings can cause health risks to you.
  2. Rats and mice carrying the Salmonella germ can also transmit it to people. If these rodents in your house infect your food, you can contract Salmonellosis, a diarrhea-related disease.
  3. These rodents can often bite you if you try to throw them out of your house. In such cases, you can also contract Rat-Bite Fever which can be a fatal disease if you cannot detect it on time.

The CDC says that rats and mice can spread almost 35 diseases all over the world. This is why it becomes necessary to know what’s the difference between rats and mice.


Damage to your property

Apart from your health, rats and mice can also cause severe damages to your property. As a property owner, you must check whether your property has rats vs. mice infestation. The most damage comes from these rodents chewing and gnawing through things. Mice can gnaw holes through wood, books, paper, or anything else they might find helpful in making their nests. They can also chew wires around your house, which can cause terrible fires.

Rats, on the other hand, can raid your pantry and infect your food items. Their teeth are also strong enough to cut through any metal. Like mice, they can also damage electrical wires leading to dangerous fires in your house.


Rodent exterminator holding toxic spray


Preventing infestation

Now that you know how to tell the difference between rats and mice and the possible consequences of infestation, let’s talk about solutions. Some measures you can take to stop rodent growth in your house are:

  • Clean your house regularly. Look under the beds and wardrobes to find possible nesting areas of rodents and thoroughly clean them.
  • Find the food sources of these rodents and root them out. If you have cereals in your pantry that you think rats or mice might consume, seal the cupboards properly so that they cannot enter them.
  • Block the entryways and runways. If you have pipelines or cracks in walls where you find signs of rat urine or mice droppings, clean them and block the areas so the rodents can no longer pass through them.
  • Use the various traps and baits available in the market. Most of the time, the poison in those traps helps kill mice and rats quickly.

You can also read more about controlling rat infestation in our blog here.


Final thoughts

Rats and mice can be a cause of serious worry for homeowners. In this article, we gave you information about rats vs. mice in your house. We also talked about how to get rid of them. However, these home remedies may work only to prevent an infestation. If you already have rats or mice infestation in your house, you may need to call professional pest control services like Bug Guy Services. Click here to contact us or for a free estimate!