Mouse crawling out of a hole on a pipe leading into a house | Springer Professional Do I have rats or mice? | Des Moines IA | Springer Professional Home Services

Whether it’s mice or rats you are dealing with, both need to be addressed. Understanding what type of rodent you have is the first step in effective management. Rats and mice have a similar appearance and overlapping behaviors, so differentiating between the two can be challenging. 

Mouse vs. Rat Similarities

As mentioned, there are several similarities between rats and mice that makes them difficult to distinguish. These include: 

  • Continuous Growth of Incisor Teeth: Rats and mice have incisor teeth that perpetually grow. As a result, both will gnaw on various materials to manage their tooth length. This can result in damage around your property. 
  • Seeking Shelter in Cold Weather: Rodents will all look for warmer places to hide when the temperatures get colder. Signs of infestation are more noticeable in the winter months as rodents invade places like garages, basements, and voids within walls. 
  • Nocturnal Activity: Activity for both mice and rats takes place at night. This can make it more difficult to locate them and lead to startling sounds and disturbances once you have settled in for the evening. 

Rat vs. Mouse Differences

Despite their similarities, there are distinct differences that can clarify what type of rodent you are dealing with. 

  • Size: Rats are noticeably larger, and their bodies can measure between six and nine inches in length, not including their tails. Mice are much smaller, with a typical range of two to five inches long. 
  • Body Proportions: Mice have a more delicate appearance due to their size, larger ears, and longer tails. Rats have small and thick ears with large feet. This gives rats a hefter appearance. 
  • Droppings: Identifying droppings can also give you clues. Mouse droppings are small (about one to two mm) and rod-shaped. Rat droppings are much larger (around 10-20 mm in length) and have a spindle shape to them.
  • Reproduction Rate: Mice will reproduce at rapid rates, with the ability to produce ten litters per year, with an average of 14 pups. Rats have a slower reproduction rate, with about three to six litters per year, with each litter having up to ten pups.
  • Dietary Habits: Dietary preferences are also different. Mice usually eat seeds, grains, and fruits, while rats eat a larger range of food, including grains, fruits, seeds, meats, and even contents found in garbage. 

Rat vs. Mouse Droppings

Of all the different ways to document a rodent, one of the easiest ways to verify is to examine their droppings. Should you come across droppings, the areas should be cleaned thoroughly and the rodent infestation should be addressed immediately.

Rat droppings are relatively large and can be noticeable. They are usually found in concentrated areas and measure between 10-20 mm in length. Their droppings are also spindle-shaped with blunt ends. 

Mouse droppings are much smaller, measuring just one to two mm. They can be described as rod-shaped with a point at the end. Mice do not have specific defecation locations and will scatter their droppings as they move around. 

Professional Extermination for Rats and Mice

Whether mice or rats have found their way into your dwelling, it is vital to address the issue as quickly as possible. Both introduce a significant health risk and can damage your property through their nesting and chewing. They are also capable of transmitting disease and contaminating food sources. 

Don’t delay reaching out to a professional exterminator if you suspect a rodent infestation in your home or business. With 35 years of experience in Iowa, Springer Professional Home Services can ensure your property remains safe. Contact us today!

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Do I Have Rats or Mice?

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