Mouse and Rat: How Do They Differ?

mouse and rat


Many people ask, what is the difference between mouse and rat? Both mouse and rat belong to the rodent family; hence they have some similarities.

However, there are significant differences between a mouse vs rat, which make it difficult for an average homeowner to differentiate between the two. This ranges from their size, lifespan, habitat, and diet, to behavior.

Identifying whether they are rats or mice in your home will help you know how to prevent and eliminate these rodents. Here you will learn more about the difference between a rat and a mouse.

Differences between Mice and Rats

There are various differences between mouse and rat, as discussed below:

mouse and rat comparison chart

Size & Weight

This is one of the major differences between a rat and a mouse. Rats are generally larger than mice. Mice have a body length of up to 4 inches and weigh between 1 ounce to 3 oz.

On the other hand, the body length of a rat is about 9 to 11 inches, and weighs between 12 oz to 1.4 lbs.


Mice have small heads and big floppy ears, while rats have a head that is proportionate to their body size and tiny ears. Besides, mice have long, hairy, and slender tails, while rats have shorter, hairless, and thicker tails.

Mice have triangular snouts with long whiskers, while rats have more blunt noses than mice. In addition, mice have soft grey, black, or brown fur, whereas rats have coarse fur, which can be brown, grey, or black.


Both mice and rats’ droppings are similar in shape and are dark-colored. However, the rats’ droppings are a bit larger compared to the mice’s droppings. The rats’ droppings have rounded ends, while mice droppings have pointed ends.

The mouse droppings have a length of around ⅛ of an inch to a ¼ of an inch, and rat droppings measure up to ¾ of an inch. If it’s a mouse in your house, you are likely to see more than 40 to 100 droppings in a day, and if it’s a rat, you will see less than 20 to 50 droppings in a day.


A mouse vs rat differs in their eating habits. Mice prefer eating fruits, grains, and seeds. On the other hand, rats can eat almost everything that comes their way though they mostly prefer meat and fresh grains.

For the rats to survive, they require 1/2 to 1 ounce of water. In addition, rats tend to eat more food than mice.


Behaviour is another big difference between a mouse and a rat. Mice are very curious and like exploring new things they come across, making it easy to get rid of them by setting traps in their paths.

They are fast runners and talented jumpers, climbers, and swimmers. Mice are nocturnal, meaning they are active at night and don’t love bright lights.

Rats are a bit cautious and tend to avoid anything new until they are used to it. For this reason, ensure you place unset traps in their path, and after they are used to them, then you can place set traps.

Rats are adept swimmers, and they can get into your house through broken toilets and drains. They are also excellent climbers, and they can climb on top of shelves to get shelter, food, and water.

Breeding & Lifespan

Rats vs mice breed very fast, and they can become a huge problem if they invade your house. A mouse can have over 300 offspring in her lifetime, and mice usually mate in four weeks.

In a span of one year, a pair of rats can reproduce over 2000 rats. Mice typically can live up to 30 months, while rats can live up to 36 months.


Mice like to nest close to where they get their food. They build their nests using shredded paper or soft materials.

Rats usually burrow along fences, under buildings, or under debris or plants. For instance, roof rats build their nests in trees, attics, and walls, while Norway rats live in burrows.


Mice and rats can cause excessive damage to your properties, structures, and essential belongings. However, rats are more destructive than mice since they are bigger and eat more.

Rats can chew and eat larger things that mice cannot since they have weaker teeth. Rats can chew wire mesh, brick, glass, sheet metal, aluminum, and cinder blocks. These rodents can chew electrical wires, posing a fire hazard.


By now, I am sure you know the difference between a rat and a mouse. Proper identification of a mouse vs rat affects how you can control and get rid of them since different techniques are employed to eliminate them.

However, knowing their behavior, habitats, and diets can help you efficiently do away with them.

It is good to note that both mice and rats droppings have pathogens that are unsafe for humans. Given that these rodents increase their populations within a short period, they are hard to control.

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