Know Your Enemy: Rat or Mouse?

If you are reading this, you may already have a concern that you have uninvited mammals living in your home. The steps and actions that you take to eradicate your castle of these rodent pests will vary depending on the specific pest.  You must identify the source to effectively eradicate the problem.  So we need to make some distinctions and clarifications; rat or mouse?

First order of business:  You may have noticed the dreaded rodent “poopie” in a cabinet or drawer corner.  Review the unsightly evidence. Mouse dropping will range from 1/8 to 1/4 inch in length, whereas rats droppings will be double that size, in the area of 1/2 inch. Shudder. See view below for comparison, it may make your identification process easier.

Second:  Have you actually seen the little rodent zipping across your floor?  This should be an easy call.

Additional Rodent Distinctions:

The rat is said to be more aggressive and may attack if cornered, while the tinier mouse, will usually always attempt to run for safety. 

Rats will travel farther from their home to obtain food sources while the mouse stays very localized. Both will build nests, but rats will burrow up to 3 feet into the ground.

Rats will travel the same path over and over again, so you may see an “oily” trail or rub marks across baseboards, etc. where the rat has created his path. 

The rat will urinate to communicate with other rats for  breeding and marking. A recent unfamiliar odor in your home may signify unwanted rodent pests.

Rats and mice will not cohabitate.  Generally, if you find a rat, there are not mice or visca versa. 

Both rats and mice need to gnaw to keep their teeth in check, but rats are able to do much more damage than the tiny mouse.  If you are finding unexplained electrical issues this too may be a sign that rats have moved in and chewing electrical wiring in your home. 

Rats and mice can easily spread disease, other pests (think fleas), and contaminate food sources. Again, rats can be aggressive, so if you see one, go the other way and begin investigating the pest control methods necessary to remove these nuisances from your home. There are SOOO many easily accessible and user friendly  products to exterminate rats and mice on the market now, that you would do well to investigate your do-it-yourself pest control options before immediately dialing up a pest control contractor.  The cost savings could be significant, and then you are not tied into a contractual obligation. 

But you do need to know which  enemy rodent you are fighting, so review the above and click on this link for further rat vs. mouse behavior and clarification.  Stay tuned for our next post on how to rid your home of these pesky rodents.

Monica Bird (933 Posts)

Monica’s compassion for her customer's struggles with pest control issues and passion for pest control stems from over 10 years in the industry. With a master’s degree in entomology, she uses her knowledge and experience in chemistry, insects and pests to educate her customers.


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