What’s the Difference Between a Mouse and a Rat?

mouse vs rat

mouse vs ratNashville, Murfreesboro, Knoxville and Chattanooga TN

Mice and rats are considered rodents and look similar but are often confused with each other. Both carry and transmit diseases to humans and can be harmful to your health, chew through wires causing an electrical fire, or destroy your personal belongings with their feces and urine. However, there are distinguishing differences between these two common rodents in Nashville. Today on the blog, Ameri Care Services shares how to tell the difference between a mouse and a rat so that you can better prevent them from invading your home or business.

Physical Appearance

Perhaps one of the most notable differences between a mouse and a rat is their size. Mice are much smaller, about 3 to 4 inches in length, and weigh only a few ounces or less. Not that you’ll be weighing a mouse if you trap one, but knowing its approximate size and weight can help you identify it correctly. Mice have a thin, hairy tail that is equally as long as their body. Their heads are tiny, and their ears are larger and form a point at the tip. Mice can be white, brownish, or gray. They have small triangle-shaped snots and smooth fur. However, rats are much larger, about 9 to 11 inches long, and weigh as much as a pound or more. Their tails measure about 7 to 9 inches, are long, thick, scaley, and without any hair. Unlike mice, which have larger pointy ears, rats have smaller ears, larger heads, and blunt snots. Their fur may be dark brown or multicolored, and it’s more of a coarse texture, not smooth like mice.


Mice and rats are omnivores, which means they eat both plant material and meat. Mice tend to prefer fruit, seeds, and plants when living in the wild. However, if they find their way indoors, they may seek breadcrumbs, open boxes of crackers, cereals, or other grains, and only require a few drops of water each day to survive. Rats aren’t as picky. Rats require about 15 to 60 mL of water each day, a lot more than mice! While rats like plants and seeds, they will literally eat about anything, scouring the garbage for food scraps of any kind.


Mice are like third-shift workers. They come alive at night and are quiet and restful during the daylight hours. They prefer to stick with other mice yet are territorial and curious, more so than rats, making them easier to trap. Because mice are so tiny, they can climb to various levels and squeeze into small openings, accessing more areas than rats. However, rats tend to be more cautious and less curious than mice, although they are still good climbers. Both of these rodents can gnaw through electrical wiring, which could damage your appliances or cause a fire. Mice have weaker jaws and typically won’t chew through hard materials like wood or metal. However, rats have been known to chew through glass, aluminum, sheet metal, and even cinder blocks to get to food.


Rats and mice are both known to crawl into homes but prefer different areas for survival. Mice typically can be found in garages or storage buildings, under decks or in crawlspaces, and inside walls or voids of your home. Rats are a little different, depending on the species you’re dealing with. Roof rats live in attics, cabinets, or higher levels of a home, while Norway rats prefer living in the sewer, walls, basements, and cellars.


Whether you’re dealing with a mouse or a rat, their droppings harbor diseases that contaminate surfaces and could spread to humans without proper cleaning and removal. But here’s how to tell if the rodent droppings belong to a mouse or a rat. Mice droppings are very tiny, about ¼” long, black in color, and form a sharp point at each end, like the shape of a grain of rice. They defecate a lot – up to 100 droppings at a time! Rat droppings are much larger, measuring about three times the length of mouse droppings, and are elongated and oval-shaped. Rat droppings are also black but are shaped more like a banana. They can drop up to 50 droppings at a time. Therefore, spotting a lot of mouse or rat droppings throughout your home doesn’t necessarily mean you have an infestation, although you should still address the issue.

Rodent Control in Murfreesboro and Nashville, Tennessee

Whether you have evidence of mice or rats in your home or business, Ameri Care Services. Give us a call at (615) 893-7111 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.