Pest Control

Is It A Mouse Or A Rat ? ( 5 Ways To Figure Out )

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Have you spotted a mouse in your house? Are you sure it is a mouse? When we spot a rodent we often have this doubt “ is it a mouse or a rat?”. I have a solution for you. In this article I am going to describe 5 easy ways to identify mice from rats. Let’s find out now.

Is It A Mouse Or A Rat

Is it a mouse or a rat?

Both Rats and mice are rodent types and they look alike to each other. You can differentiate them mainly based on their size. If we consider the rats, they are large and heavy. On the other hand, mice have smaller and slender bodies. 

Additionally, they consist of long thin tails when compared to their body size. Moreover, they will  consist of hairs as well.

You may  find three species of rats mainly at homes. You could spot them commonly as  they can adapt to the human environment quite fast. 

The three species of rats are brown rat , black rat and house mouse. To elaborate further on this, they are known as Rattus norvegicus, Rattus tattus and Mus Domexticus respectively. You may find several subspecies of house mouse in different parts of the world. However, many people tend to consider them as separate species recently.

Moreover,  you cannot distinguish them from each other while looking at them virtually.   

You cannot  identify the rodents based on their features. For example, all of them have incisor teeth in the upper jaw. 

Besides, they have short legs and tails which are long. However, when you look at them closely, you can distinguish them depending on their characteristics and on their habits and you can identify which pest type is causing trouble for you.



As aforesaid, the size of the mouse is smaller when compared with the size of the rats. You can easily identify the mouse from their size. The size of the mouse would be larger from  3-10 cm in length in comparison to the body length of the rat. 

Usually , the rat’s body would  be about 16-40 cm long. Having said that you may also find it difficult to identify the adult mouse with young rats also as the young rat’s size would vary with a grown up rat. You can recognize a mature mouse among young rats if the mature mouse has larger ears and longer tails when you compare their body length with the rat body length. 

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Moreover, if we consider a young rat, they will have larger feet and a larger head when you compare them with the mouse. Last but not least, you could spot the mice either in light gray or in brown. Besides, they may also have a lighter shade on their bellies as well.


If we elaborate on two rat types mainly , brown rats will consist of a thicker body and a nose which is blunt. Their tail will be shorter when you compare it with the length of the head and with its body. 

You could spot the underneath of the tail in paler color, and they may also consist of small hairy ears too. To briefly touch on, black rats, they would carry a slender body. Instead of having a blunt nose like in the brown rats, black rates will tend to have  a pointed nose. Black rats ears would be larger and thin. Finally their tail would also be longer when you compare it with their body length.



Mice prefer to feed on cereals. Before consuming food, they would kibble the grain first. To do that they remove the outer husk and then eat the white endosperm which is inside. Mice usually go after the food which is in the same place. They do not need to quench their thirst. However ,if they can find water, they can drink about 3 l of them .


Rats and mice are omnivorous. Having said that, brown rats and house mice tend to eat cereals mainly. On the other hand, black rats tend to eat food which has a high component of moisture. For example, they tend to eat fruits a lot.

If we further elaborate on the brown rats, they feed on food items such as cereals. When they eat grains, they would cut them while eating and one might think that they tend to chop them first and then eat. As aforesaid, they would usually go in search of food in the same close proximity. It makes baiting easier. They would drink about 60 ml on a daily basis.

If we consider on black rats, they will tend to eat fruit which is moist. They would also cut grain before they consume, just like with the brown rats. They would not go in search of food in the same spot consequently. Hence you might find it difficult to control them. 

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You can use many small baiting points to overcome them and moist food would be ideal for that purpose. Black rats would drink about 30 ml per day.  

Where they live


You can commonly find the mice on the ground. They would nest in burrows. Having said that they are agile and can have the capability of climbing too. If they spread on a massive scale, chances are that they could build some pillars of dirt and urine. 

Moreover, they could remain for a long time too. Furthermore, the mouse footprints are smaller when compared to the footprints of the rats.


If we consider on black rats, you could spot them in buildings in the ports. Besides you may also come across them in ships specially in tempera counties. They would nest  underneath the roofs. 

Further, black rats would nest in trees, particularly in warmer countries. In fact, they are originating from warmer countries, and you can commonly spot this condition in warmer countries. Woodlands and orchards are their favorite nesting trees. If we elaborate further on the brown rats, they will usually prefer to stay in the ground and in burrows. You could spot them in buildings, especially in sewer systems.

How dropping looks like


If you consider the length of the mouse droppings, it would be about 3-8 mm long. You could spot them usually scattered randomly. Those mouse droppings would be granular . Further they would be black in color. You can commonly spot them around the nesting areas.


There is a high probability for the rat droppings to be mistaken for mouse droppings and for the cockroach droppings.  If we elaborate  on the brown rat  droppings,  they would be wide and dark brown in color. Their shape would be more like  tapered and spindle. They would resemble the look of a large grain of rice.

The drooping of the black rat would be long and slender. Moreover, they would be smaller in size when you compare them with the black rat droppings. The black rat’s drooping shape would be more like regular. Further they would tend to take a banana like curve and pointed ends too.  

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House mouse litter size would vary from 4-16. Further they would release litters of 7-8 per year. They would mature within 8-12 weeks.


If we consider the brown rats, their litter size would vary from 7-8. They would release 3-6 liters annually. It would take about 10-12 weeks to mature. On the other hand, black rats litter size would vary from 5-10. They would release 3-6 litter per year. They will reach their maturity when they are about 7-8 weeks old.

How to get rid of mouse and rat

Anybody would find it annoying to spot mice or rats in your home and  if you need to get rid of the mouse, you can practice the following steps to get rid of them. First you need to seal the cracks with caulk or steel wool.  As you may already know, house mice can enter your home through those openings. 

Hence when you seal them,  you are simply blocking their entry points to your home.

Besides, you need to keep the basements and attics clean. Ensure that you  do not keep  excess moisture around your home. 

Further store firewood about 20 feet higher from the home. Moreover, always keep food in airtight containers. Finally, dispose of garbage in a smooth manner. Finally you may also  contact the pest control service to get rid of the mice. They have the right tools to overcome them.

Finally , if you place mice repellents such as peppermint oil , it will also keep these nasty creatures away from your house. it would be a great preventive measure. Moreover, you may also consider placing glue traps and snap traps also to get rid of them. You may also consider placing mouse bait stations. 

However, if you place them, ensure that you place it with caution particularly if there are kids around your house. They could be poisonous for the kids.

Credit to : Somprakash Shukla

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I'm Dr. Chamika and I'm a Researcher in Water quality, Aquatic organisms, and Environmental chemistry. Our highly qualified team is trying to educate you in various aspects of the day to day life in many ways. Their mission is to help others to enjoy their life to the fullest.