Rodent Infestation?

Not sure if you are dealing with mice or rats? Find out how to identify common rodents from the experts at ChemTec Pest Control!

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There are about 1500 species of rodent living in the world; and within the classification of rodent, there can be a vast difference in size, appearance, and behavior. While beavers and rats are both considered rodents, beavers are much larger creatures that live primarily in the water. You’re not likely to call a pest control company to get rid of a beaver infestation in your home. In the same why that there are differences between beavers and rats, there are differences between rats and mice. Here are a few ways you can distinguish these two rodents from each other.


  • Size: Rats can be as much as 5 times bigger than mice. A standard adult mouse will be around 12 to 20 cm long, while a rat can grow to be up to 40 cm long. The difficulty in telling the difference just by size can occur if the rat happens to be a very young rat, more the size of an adult mouse. But there are other differences.
  • Weight: Rats aren’t just longer than mice, they are heavier. If you are looking at a rodent that looks like it needs to drop a few pounds, chances are you are looking at a rat, as rats tend to look “fatter” than mice.
  • Tail length: Both mice and rats have a long, thin tail. The tail on a mouse looks noticeably longer when compared to the length of its body. Generally speaking, a mouse’s tail is longer than the length of its body, but a rat’s tail appears to be about the same length as its body. Of course, this varies with different mouse and rat species. Also, a rat’s tail tends to be thicker in comparison to its body.
  • Face shape: A mouse’s face is thin and pointy, whereas the face of a rat tends to have more of a boxy shape, like the face of a puppy dog.
  • Ear shape and appearance: Rat ears are very different from mouse ears. Like Mickey Mouse, mouse ears stick straight up off their heads. Rat ears are set further back and don’t look nearly as perky.


  • Social aspects: Rats are not as skittish as mice.
  • Group size: Rats will congregate in large groups, while mice prefer small groups of 3 or 4. In fact, even if mice are from the same litter, they often will not get along, especially if they are males. If they are males, they may even kill each other. Rats do not have this problem.
  • Affection: Pet rats love and crave attention from people. Though you might be able to teach a pet mouse a trick or two, they will never be an affection companion like a pet rat. (Note: although rats make cleaner, friendlier, and smarter pets than mice, in the wild, rats carry and transmit more diseases than mice.)
  • Physical behavior: Mice like to dig down deep and create burrows. While rats prefer to climb up high to hide.


  • Size: Rat droppings are larger than mouse droppings, measuring around 7-19 mm as compared to mouse droppings which are around 4-7 mm.
  • Shape: Mouse droppings are pointed on one end, whereas rat droppings are more rounded.

Lifespan and breeding habits

  • Lifespan: Rats live longer than mice, typically from 2-3 years. Mice generally live 1.5-2.5 years.
  • Reproduction: Mice are able to mate when they are only 4 weeks old and can produce more than 300 offspring in one lifetime, but two rats can reproduce as many as 2,000 descendants in one year! This means that the number of mice or rats in your home could get out of control if left unchecked.


  • Chewing holes: Both rats and mice, as rodents, have ever-growing incisors and must chew constantly to wear those teeth down. Since rats are bigger creatures, they tend to chew much bigger holes than mice, and at a faster pace. So, they cause more damage.
  • Materials they chew: Again, since rats are larger, they are able to chew sturdier materials than mice. Some things rats can chew through that mice cannot include aluminum, wire mesh, brick, cinder blocks, and concrete. However, mice can chew through wires just as easily as rats, and this is a fire hazard no matter what creature is doing the chewing. And, when holes are chewed through walls, this is damaging to your wallet, as heat or cool air will escape, and your energy bills will increase.

Even though these two creatures have many differences, they have one very important thing in common: they are not beneficial to have inside your home. If you need help eliminating or excluding mice or rats, reach out to ChemTec Pest Control today.

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