The rat and mouse are notoriously known for be menacing to our homes, but have you ever wondered if your mouse problem could (or did) actually turn into a rat problem?
Most people quickly associate rats with dumpsters, alleyways, and sewers, but many often don’t know (or forget) that rats may also seek shelter in your home, just like mice. The rat and mouse have a lot in common, but it’s important to get your facts right when it comes to the health and safety of your home.
Keep reading to find out more about the similarities and differences between rats and mice.
Can field mice turn into rats?
If you’re thinking that mice have special powers and can magically mutate into rats, you’re out of luck: they unfortunately cannot. But, if you’re wondering if your mouse problem can suddenly turn into a rat problem, you’ve come to the right place.
The simple answer is this: yes, a mouse problem can turn into a rat problem, but that does not mean that mice attract rats.
In other words, it’s not the presence of mice that could attract rats, it’s the underlying causes of why you have mice in the first place. For example, if you have mice because your kitchen is full of crumbs and exposed food, then that is likely one of the reasons why rats could also be attracted to your home, for rats tend to gravitate towards reliable food sources, as well.
This is an important distinction to make because it emphasizes the importance of addressing the underlying conditions that are causing you to have rodent issues.
Are rats just big mice?
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple: rats are not mice and mice are not rats. In fact, the mouse and rat are very general and unscientific names to describe and classify the common types of rodents that we commonly see. There are, however, some species of rats and mice that look somewhat similar, and large, really well-fed mice have been known to trick people into thinking that their rats.
The Norway rat (also known as the brown rat, street rat, sewer rat, or common rat) is one of the species of rats you have most commonly seen throughout your life. It is also one of the types of rats that often gets confused for mice (particularly for the house mouse mus). The biggest difference between the two is that Norway rats tend to be much larger than the typical house mouse. Once you have seen the size discrepancy between the two, it is easy to differentiate between them.
Along with the Norway rat, the roof rat (also known as the black rat, ship rat, or house rat) is the other species of rat that you have likely seen during you life. While the roof rat is much closer in size to the average house mouse, its black appearance makes it much easier to identify and harder to confuse for the house mouse in your home.
The most important thing to note is that there are clear distinctions between species of mice and species of rats. Therefore, rats and mice must be clearly classified when spotted in your home in order to accurately assess your problem and implement a solution.
Are mice in the rat family?
Mice and rats are categorized in the same family called Muridae.
The Muridae family contains over 700 species making it the largest family of rodents and of mammals. This is pretty remarkable, for it shows us just how many different species of mice and rats there are around the globe.
Because rats and mice are both murids (species in the Muridae family), the hundreds of different species all have a few things in common:
- most species live less than two years
- their populations oscillate in size every three-four year due to fast reproduction followed by the exhaustion of food supplies
- they are resilient and can be found in relative abundance all around the world (except for the North and South poles and some oceanic islands)
Are mice as bad as rats for the house?
So, rats and mice are both murids, but does that mean that they both cause the same amount of havoc in our homes? Generally, the answer is yes, mice and rats are equally as bad for your house for they pose similar health risks and can cause extensive damage.
The two biggest dangers that both a mouse and a rat pose on a home are spreading diseases and illnesses and causing electrical fires by chewing through electrical wires. It doesn’t matter if you have a rat problem or a mouse problem…if you have one of them, the risks are serious and the issue should be dealt with immediately.
How to tell difference between mice and rats
You’ve recently spotted some small black pellets on the floor of your home. Or you’ve just seen a small fury friend run across your floor. Are those rat droppings or mouse droppings on your floor? Is that a house mouse, roof rat, Norway rat, or guinea pig that you just saw (hint: unlikely a guinea pig)?
While pest control (specifically rodent control) methods generally entail fundamental solutions applicable to many different types of pests, mouse control and rat control methods can actually be a little more specific.
Therefore, it’s important to be able to tell the difference between the common mouse and the roof rat and Norway rat in order to be able to accurately identify them if one or two of them crawls into your home.
Here are a few easy ways to differentiate between a mouse and a rat:
- Generally speaking, the body size of a mouse is smaller than that of a rat: on average, an adult mouse measures around 7.5 inches in length (including the tail), while the adult rat can grow up to 18 inches in length (including the tail)
- a mouse has a thin and somewhat hairy tale, while a rat has a thick, hairless, and somewhat scaly tail
- a mouse has a triangular shaped nose, while a rat has a more rounded nose
- mouse droppings are about 0.25 inches long (looks like miniature pellets of uncooked black rice), while rat droppings are about 0.75 inches long (noticeable larger than mouse droppings)
If you still aren’t sure whether you have mouse or a rat problem, contact your local pest control expert or exterminator right away for more assistance. Remember, neglecting the problem is never the answer when it comes to the rat and the mouse in your house…always take immediate action to prevent a dire situation.