How to Spot the Difference Between Rat And Mouse

Rohan Mathew

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Eeek, there’s a mouse in the house! Or is it actually a rat? You don’t want either of them living in your home, but how can you tell the difference, and does it matter?

Knowing the difference between a rat vs. mouse can help you trap the unwanted rodents more easily, so it’s best to figure out which type of rodent decided to move in as soon as you can. To learn about the key features of each, read on.

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Mouse vs. Rat Size

The first and most obvious rat vs. mouse difference is the size of these two creatures. Mice are tiny animals that could easily fit in the palm of your hand. At only 2-3 inches long, they can squeeze through holes as small as a quarter of an inch.

Rats vary in size, but they’re all larger than mice. The average house rat is 8-10 inches long.

Rat Tail vs. Mouse Tail

What if you weren’t able to tell how big your rodent roommate is and only caught a glimpse of its hind end as it scurried away? That quick look may still provide you with enough info for identification, as rats and mice have distinct tails.

Most mice have tails that are longer than their bodies and covered in thin, fine hair. Rats, on the other hand, have thicker tails that are the same size or shorter than their bodies. They’re hairless and often appear scaly.

Rat Poop vs. Mouse Poop

Even if you never see a whiskered pest in person, the evidence they leave behind can work as well as a calling card.

Mouse and rat droppings match the size of the animal. Mice leave behind tiny (3-8 mm) black granular droppings, usually near their nesting site. Rats leave behind longer, more tapered droppings that often look like a black or brown grain of rice.

Regardless of which rodent left droppings behind, use care when cleaning them up. According to the experts at, mice can spread dangerous illnesses.

These include Lyme’s disease and the sometimes fatal Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), so never touch a mouse, rat, or droppings with your bare hands. Thoroughly disinfect any areas with rodent droppings and clean it up quickly so small children or pets don’t find it.

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Rat Trap vs. Mouse Trap

Once you’ve figured out whether you have a rat or a mouse living in your walls, use that to figure out how to trap them. There’s a wide range of rodent traps on the market, many of which are available at hardware or lawn and garden stores.

Both rats and mice breed quickly, so if you think you have more than one rodent in your home, don’t wait for traps to work. Call a pest company to help you identify the full scope of the problem and take care of it.

Answer These Rat vs. Mouse Questions to Start Fixing Your Pest Problem Today

Now that you know how to tell the difference between a rat vs. mouse, it’s time to send them on their way. Take a DIY approach with traps or call your local pest control company to get started.

Do you have other pressing questions that need to be answered, fast? You’re in the right place. Read through the other articles on our site for more helpful advice.