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What is the difference between mice and rats?

Updated: Mar 29


These pests are at the forefront of concern in homes all over the world; most successful due to their adaptation to human environments. What is effective in managing rats will not always work for mice, therefore, your efforts to control rodents will be much more of a success if you understand each animal fully - characteristics such as habitats, behaviours and food preferences. If you are seeking Pest control in Worcester, we are here to help!


Do I have a mice infestation?

Telling signs of mice intruding include:

  • Mouse droppings - Mice can leave, on average, between 50/80 over 24 hours. Check along skirting, inside or on top of cupboards.

  • Grease marks - Dark smears will be evidently brushed on walls, floors, around corners and holes.

  • Scratching noises - Mice are most active at night. Scratching noises may be heard from under floorboards, in false ceilings, basements and lofts.

  • Footprints - Dusty environments such as lofts and basements can show up rodent tracks and tail marks. Any powder substance can be used to check for rodents.

  • Live or dead mice - Seeing a mouse during daylight hours can be a strong indication you have a heavy mouse infestation.

  • Ammonia-like smell - Mice urinate often, leaving behind a very strong smell. Unfortunately, the smell can linger even after an infestation has been removed.

Behaviour and habits of a Mouse

Due to their curious nature, upon investigating, mice often fall victim to mouse traps placed in their path. Mousetraps are likely not in the right place and should be moved if you have not caught your furry intruder within a few days.


Mice will feed on almost anything, however, they do prefer to eat cereal grains and plants.


Reaching sexual maturity very early, mice can easily produce large litters (up to 10 litters a year!) of between five to six babies. Baby mice can begin to reproduce at as young as six weeks.









Where do mice live?


Mice build their nests from any soft or finely shredded material they can source. They build their nests in hidden areas with a food source close by.

  • Loft spaces - soft materials such as paper, cardboard, loft insulation and stored fabrics will be shredded and used to line their nests.

  • Kitchens - Check behind appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, tumble dryers and cookers. Any gaps where cables or pipework enters from outside should be investigated too.

  • Basements - Mice can gain entry to lower floors through air bricks and vents, especially if they are damaged.

  • Hidden areas - Suspended ceilings, cavity walls and crawlspaces can be easily squeezed into by young rats.

Do I have a Rat infestation?

Rat infestations can be indicated through evidence such as:

  • Droppings - Rats can leave, on average, between 20/50 droppings in a 24 hour period. These droppings are much larger than mouse droppings and can be up to ⅔ of an inch in length. Check along skirting, inside or on top of cupboards.

  • Rub marks - Dark smears will be evidently brushed on walls, floors, around corners and holes. Rats run alongside these due to their poor eyesight.

  • Scratching noises - Rats are most active at night. Scratching noises may be heard from under floorboards, in false ceilings, basements and lofts.

  • Footprints - Dusty environments such as lofts and basements can show up rodent tracks and tail marks. Any powder substance can be used to check for rodents.

  • Burrowing - Rats build extensive burrows next to solid structures of objects such as garden sheds, garages and deckings.

Behaviour and habits of a Rat

Unlike mice, rats are very careful creatures and are unlikely to immediately explore new things such as traps placed in their way. If you are wanting to use a rattrap, you will need to place unset traps in the environment first to allow time for the creature to get used to it and gain curiosity.


The eating habits of a rat are limitless, although they do prefer meat and grains. If they do not get their required ½ ounce of liquid from food, they will go elsewhere to find water. Rats, unlike mice, will dig under plants, fences, buildings and even into the sewers to search for food.


Rats will breed all year round and live on average for 2 years in the wild, 3 years if they are lucky. During their life they will have 3-6 litters of young per year, these litters can have 12 rat pups each. These rat pups will turn into adult rats and start breeding at 3 months old.



Where do rats live?


Outdoors, rats will burrow into grassy banks or under sheds and even venture down into the sewers.

Inside the home, the following areas are likely to be inhabited:

  • Hidden areas - Suspended ceilings, cavity walls and crawl spaces can be easily squeezed into by young rats.

  • Kitchens - Check behind appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, tumble dryers and cookers. Any gaps where cables or pipework enters from outside should be investigated too.

  • Loft spaces - shredded insulation is an extremely telling sign of a rat infestation. Chewed items (cardboard boxes for example) and droppings too.

Despite some similar behaviours, such as a desire to enter your home and cause extensive damage, the most distinguishable difference between rats and house mice is their size and the rate at which they can breed. One pregnant House Mouse can turn into 2000 mice in just one year if left unchecked, and one Rat can turn into 200 in the same length of time!

We understand the urgency of an infestation and other pest problems, which is why we will administer a representative as quickly as we can in order to address your situation and give you peace of mind. For more information on our services of pest control in kidderminster, call today on 07852 134 442 for a free quote.


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