Do I have Mice or Rats?

When you see the signs of unwanted little pests in your home such as chewed belongings and droppings, how can you be sure if you have mice or rats? While both pests have similarities, there are striking differences.

Difference in Appearance

Mice are small hairy rodents with large ears and thin, hairy tails. Mice have hair that can be brown, gray or white in color. They are the smaller of the two rodents and can get to be up to 8” / 20cm in length. Mice have large feet and small bodies, and are sometimes confused with infant rats.



rat standing side view

Rats are larger than mice and can grow up to 16” / 40cm in length. Rats have scaly, hairless tails and small ears. Rat’s coats can be black, white, gray or brown in color and have small feet and large snouts.



Mice and rats can have similar diets, depending on the type of rat. Mice typically eat dry, grain like items such as cereal and dried corn husks and thrive off of carbohydrates. They also eat seeds and fruit periodically as well. Mice sometimes will chew on inedible items like paper, wires and fabrics and also return to the same locations time and time again, eating typically at night.

Rats eat cereal and grains often as well, preferring carbohydrates for the most part. Black rats do prefer moist fruits and do not prefer to eat in the same location. Like mice, rats will chew on inedible items as well but can chew through extremely tough materials such as concrete, metal and pipes.


Mice and rats both like to build nests to sleep in. Mice prefer to build their nests in high locations and small spaces and typically get inside of walls and into the attics of homes. Rats prefer lower locations such as the bottom or ground floors of buildings and basements. Rats also like boats and locations near waterways.


The easiest way to tell if you have a mouse or rat problem when you can’t actually see the rodent, is by checking the droppings they leave behind. Mouse droppings will be small, pellet like and uniform in shape. Rat droppings however, will be considerably larger and less uniformed. Mice also tend to have much more droppings left behind as opposed to rats.

Whether you have a mouse or rat problem it is best to call a professional right away and keep food tightly sealed. Be sure to remove trash right away and seal any cracks or holes you may see in your home.