Spotting The Difference Between a Mouse and Rat Infestation In Your Home

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Rat vs. Mouse: Rodent Identification

At some point, we all have had our moment of sheer terror seeing a mouse scurry across the floor. There is no shame in admitting that mice, while cute in some context, are possibly the most frightening thing to see unexpectedly in the afternoon. However, while mice can be a fright, seeing rats can be even scarier. Here are some tips to spot the difference between knowing whether your home has mice scurrying around or rats chewing up your furniture.

What is the Difference Between a Rat and a Mouse?

There are three things to look for when trying to tell the difference between a mouse and a rat: their size, smell, and their chew and claw marks.


Rats are noticeably bigger than mice, so the easiest way to tell the difference is by spotting the scurrying rodents. Mice are often four inches in length with more petite tails, while rats can grow up to eighteen inches in length. We hear your eyes rolling already, but what is important to note about their size is that when you cannot spot the rodents, you may get clued in by their droppings.

Finding rodent droppings will indicate the size of the animal that left the space. Often mouse droppings are small, less than half an inch. On the other hand, Rat droppings can be larger than half an inch, almost the size of rice grains.

Here is an example of a rat:


Here is an example of a mouse:


Recommended Reading: What You Need to Know About Rodents in Houston


One of the more pungent and in-your-face signs of a rodent infestation is the smell of urine left behind these pests. Often with mice, we can notice the scent of their urine, but it pales compared to rat urine. You may ask how you will see the difference. Well, let’s say that when your pantry suddenly reeks like days old cheese out of nowhere, you have rats instead of mice.

However, if the infestation has gotten to a point where you can smell the rodents in your home, debating the difference between which rodent is scurrying in your home might not do any good. So give our team a call to get that home not smelling like a dumpster.

Recommended Reading: The Damage Rodents Can Do to Your Home

Chew and Claw Marks

Both mice and rats will make a mess of your pantry and furniture, but you can tell the difference between a rat and a mouse thanks to their chew marks. Often rats will leave behind more prominent teeth mark holes on packages or surfaces, while mice have smaller teeth marks. If you notice a surface with minor scratches and chew marks, you likely have mice.

Try to be aware of the cables and other furniture you may have around your home. Mice might not leave significant marks on your furniture, as they try to focus on softer material to gather for their nests, but rats are a different story. Rats can chew through many hard surfaces, and if you notice frayed cable or even holes in your drywall, you might have a new rat friend.

Recommended Reading: Signs That You May Have Rodents

Dealing With Rodents?

Whether you have rats or mice, you may wonder how you keep these furry critters away from your home. Well, the best course of action is always to keep a well-maintained home that gets rid of clutter. Regularly cleaning your home prevents rodents from finding food in your trash or any place you have eaten recently. Even regular sweeping can help deter rodents from finding possible refuge in your home.

Make sure to check your pipes for any leaks, as rodents will take advantage of the excess moisture to build nests nearby. Do take the time to seal your food that is outside of your fridge! While rats may still be able to chew through some packages, if you leave food uncovered or improperly closed, it will be easier for rats to find your food. Lastly, try to seal up any cracks or holes you find around your home. When you are not paying attention, rodents will sneak into your home via holes in your windows and walls.

Get more prevention tips in our blog: Tips to Prevent Rodent Infestations

At Preventive Pest Control, rodent control is our specialty, so call (713) 955-7405, and we'll make sure your home stays rodent free!

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