What is the difference between rats and mice?

What is the difference between rats and mice?

Each mice and rats are rodents, and a few are members of the identical scientific household. When they’re small, or if you solely see traces of their presence, it may be onerous to inform them aside. Nonetheless, you possibly can discover ways to distinguish a mouse from a rat by its bodily traits and (in some instances) its conduct.

Key Variations

  • dimensionRats are typically bigger and heavier than mice.
  • AreaThe most typical mice and rats have a large distribution all through North America – and past.
  • Web siteRats want city areas whereas rats are extra widespread in rural and suburban areas.


Eurasian mice and rats (Quran And the ratos) are each within the household Muridae – however there are some species that may be thought of excessive. Deer mice, for instance, are of a totally completely different intercourse (pyromyskus) and the household (Cricetidae) though they’ll seem fairly much like the untrained eye. Likewise, many species of kangaroo rats (genus Depodomes) are in the identical household Heteromyidae as their fellow North American natives, pocket rats (genus pyrognathus).


Home mice have bigger ears than mice.
David A. Northcote / Getty Pictures

The home mouse is 2 to 4 inches lengthy with giant ears and white, brown or grey fur. Mice have a particular triangular nostril and lengthy whiskers. Their tails are lengthy, skinny and bushy. Whereas rats are shy, they’re social and territorial rodents. The most typical mice in North America are the cotton rat, western harvest rat, white-footed rat, deer rat, and home mouse.

Along with being bigger (measuring seven to 9 inches lengthy), rats have sharper noses than rats. Their tails are additionally normally hairless and scaly. Among the many most typical rats in North America is the brown rat (or Norway rat), an invasive species that may disrupt regular vegetation for birds and different animals. Mice and mice are each nocturnal and produce dozens of litters all through the day – as much as 50 for rats, and as much as 100 for mice.

One other option to inform the distinction between these two rodents is to search for indicators of grease. Mice usually tend to depart traces on touched surfaces.

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Habitat loss is the most important risk to rats and mice, largely because of the encroachment of their native habitats by people and their cats. For instance, the house of the golden mouse (Ochrotomys nuttalli) of the Florida peninsula is more and more fragmented by human use of the land, making it practically unimaginable to recolonize any areas which have been worn out.

Indigenous species of mice and rats play necessary roles of their habitats as meals for a lot of predators which are themselves endangered. Most of those mice and rats are discovered within the western United States, significantly California and Arizona, or within the American South, primarily Florida. Of the 80 mammals on the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) endangered species listing, practically 1 / 4 had been both mice or rats.

In contrast to the extra enticing or photogenic endangered mammals, such because the Florida panther or the grey wolf, mice and rats do not get a lot widespread sympathy. Efforts to guard them are sometimes countered by vested pursuits which have both diminished their habitat or actively tried to exterminate them. For instance, a mouse hopping on a New Mexico meadow (Zappos Hudsonias) was first labeled as critically endangered in 2014, however solely after 8 years of authorized battles with plantation homeowners was the FWS capable of enact recovery plan.

New Mexico meadow bounce mouse.

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Nonetheless, some endangered mice and rats obtain safety. pacific pocket mousePerognathus longimembris pacificus) is threatened by the fragmentation of its historic dunes and coastal scrub from Los Angeles County to the Mexican border. They appeared to be extinct till one group was found in Orange County in 1994. A captive education program On the San Diego Zoo, it led to a reintroduction in 2016, however the species remains to be thought of probably the most endangered of all North American pocket rats.

Alongside the Gulf Coast, there are six species of seaside rat which are endangered. Their coastal dune houses are threatened not solely by human improvement and leisure use of seashores however by the elevated frequency and depth of coastal storms. With efforts to scale back the presence of cats and lights, mice are making a comeback — however not sufficient to be faraway from the endangered listing.

Among the many authentic rats, virtually all the endangered rats are kangaroo rats, which stay in remoted areas of western Canada, Mexico and the USA. large kangaroo rat (Genius Depodomes) lives within the grasslands alongside the western fringe of California’s San Joaquin Valley however is more and more threatened by increasing agricultural use and concrete improvement.

In contrast, in 2020 FWS Suggested reclassification kangaroo rat (stevens)Depodomes Stephens) are threatened relatively than endangered, after a habitat conservation plan elevated their numbers. The destiny of home rats and mice stays precarious.

Continuously Requested Questions

  • What’s the best option to inform the distinction between a mouse and a mouse?

    The obvious distinction between mice and rats is their nostril. A rat’s nostril is triangular in form, whereas a rat’s nostril is extra pointed.

  • Is a hamster a kind of mouse?

    Hamsters and a few New World mice and rats belong to the identical household of rodents Cricetidae. Most hamsters together with golden or Syrian hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) are sometimes saved as household pets, belonging to a separate subfamily. However some rodents that we name hamsters are labeled as members of both the rat or the rat genera.

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