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Do I have rats or mice?

Rats and mice are very similar pests, and they cause nearly identical damage to your home. But, knowing what type of pest you’re dealing with is the first step to eliminating an infestation. While it can be hard to tell rats and mice apart, there are a few key differences you can look for to determine which pest is invading your space:

  • Size and appearance: Generally speaking, rats are much larger than mice. They also have hairless tails, stubbier bodies, and smaller eyes. 
  • Extent of the infestation: Mice breed much faster than rats, which means mouse infestations usually spread extremely quickly compared to rats.
  • Amount of property damage: Rats are usually more aggressive with their damage, but mice cause more widespread destruction throughout your property.
Rat on pipe outside home

How Are Rats and Mice Similar?

Rats and mice are very similar mammals that share many physical and behavioral characteristics. Their bodies look nearly the same, apart from their size and proportional differences. They also both have large incisor teeth, which never stop growing and cause both types of rodents to gnaw on all sorts of objects. Some species of rats and mice also share similar nesting habits, from burrowing in the ground to hiding inside walls. 

That said, they belong to different genera within the rodent family, which contributes to variations in their biology and habits.

How to Tell Rats Apart From Mice

From their appearances to their behaviors, rats and mice are extremely similar pests. But, there are still some differences that you can examine to tell them apart. Here are some tips for determining if you have rats or mice:

  • Look at the body size and proportions: Rats usually measure between six and nine inches, while mice typically only grow to be five inches in length. Additionally, mice have much larger ears and tails compared to their body, while rats have small, beady eyes and hairy ears. 
  • Think about the feeding habits: Both rats and mice are omnivores, but rats are drawn to higher-calorie foods. They’re most drawn to fatty foods, grease, cheese, meat, and even trash. Meanwhile, mice tend to prefer grains, seeds, and fruit. 
  • Consider the size of droppings: With their significant size difference, rats and mice produce different-sized droppings. Rat droppings are usually between 10-20mm, whereas mouse droppings are rarely larger than 2mm. 

Are Rats or Mice Worse?

No rodent infestation is a good one. Both species are known for spreading serious diseases and causing potentially dangerous property damage, such as starting electrical fires or gnawing through walls. If you suspect you have a rodent infestation of any kind, it’s important to take quick action to eliminate the pests as quickly as possible. 

Found signs of rats or mice on your property? Turn to the experts at Suburban Exterminating! Since 1960, we’ve helped home and business owners throughout Suffolk County & Nassau County protect what matters most from rodents and other pests.

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