Many Wisconsin home and business owners tend to have confusion about the modest differences between mice and rats. In the off chance that you spot a rodent scurrying through your home or building, it helps to know the characteristics that set them apart.

Differences Between Mice and Rats

Mice Characteristics
The common house mouse is known to be a light and fluffy brown creature with a tint of gray. From the tip of the pointy nose to the end of its tail measures anywhere from 2 ¾ – 4 inches long. It would be smart to securely store sweet fruits, grains, and seeds because these home-found pests are very attracted to them!

Rat Characteristics
The common Norway rat can also found nesting in Wisconsin homes. This rodent is slightly different from the house mouse appearance. The bright white chest contrasts from the dull gray body, which ranges from a large 7- 10 inches. This is approximately 40% larger than a mice’s tail. The curved nose is the main feature that distinguishes the rat from the mouse. The Norway rat does not eat anything that they are not familiar with, so it is uncommon that rats will take over your cabinets! However, they are attracted to sweet and fruity items.

Name House Mouse Norway Rat
Appearance
Color/Length (without tail) Gray to light brown; light brown chest; 2 3/4 to 4 inches Coarse brown with black fur; gray or white chest; 7 to 10 inches
Nose, Ears, and Eyes Pointy nose; small ears and eyes; color blind Blunt nose; small ears and eyes; color blind
Tail Same length as body; nearly hairless with rounded scales Shorter than body; hairless with rounded scales
Droppings 1/4 inch long; rod-like with pointed ends 3/4 inch long; rounded ends
Signs of Infestation

When there are signs of a rodent infestation, a natural reaction is to panic. Some common critical signs that rats and mice share are:

  • Scratches or tooth marks on wooden items

  • Chewed insulation, electrical wiring, or metal pipes

  • Holes in cardboard packaging ranging anywhere from ½ inch to 2 inches

If at least one of these symptoms are noticed in an area, it is more than likely there are other signs that may help distinguish the creature that may be hiding out in your home.

Scratching in Walls
House mice are known to create a scratching noise within the interior of your walls and tend to nest in materials such as paper, cardboard, clothing and other fibrous materials.

Markings on Walls
Different from mice, other signs of a rat infestation are grease marks, called sebum, on walls throughout the home and tracks that may be left behind, measuring larger than ½ inch.

Rodent Droppings Tell the Story: Mice, Rats, or Bats?
Droppings that are left behind can help identify rodents. Mice tend to leave behind droppings that are approximately ¼ of an inch with pinched ends that appear to be pointed. On the other hand, the droppings grimy rats leave behind are relatively larger than mice droppings and have blunt and rounded ends. It is common to confuse the two. Surprisingly, bat droppings are also in the mix of confusion due to the similar shape. However, bats tend to hide in the ceilings and attics of houses so their droppings are usually in volcano-like piles, whereas rats and mice droppings are usually scattered throughout the home. Bat feces also have a slight iridescent shine to it from the insect parts these pests consume.

Prevention of Mice and Rats in Buildings

Residents of urban, suburban, and rural areas are often unaware of just how much food and shelter their homes can provide to rodents. Spilled crumbs and grainy food inside of your house can easily feed rats and mice. As a homeowner, it is important to take action and prevent these pests from moving into your home because these rodents may carry spreadable diseases such as Leptospirosis, Rat Bite Fever, and Salmonella. You may restrict access to rodents by storing your food sources in a secure location that does not have easy access. If any issues are encountered, call us at 262-797-4160 or contact us online if you need additional help.

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