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How Do I Know If It's Mice Or Rats In My Charlotte Home?

This article discusses the differences between mice and rats and how to distinguish between them when you find one in your home. Rats and mice differ in size, appearance, behavior, and reproduction rate, with mice being more explorative, able to fit into smaller holes, and reproducing more rapidly. Both pose threats to public health and property, and professional help is recommended for safe and effective elimination.

When you see a rodent scurrying past you in your home, you’re not really concerned with what species it is or how it differs from other rodents. All you know in that moment is that you want it out of your house immediately! It doesn't matter if you see a mouse or a rat. They’re both destructive, they both pose threats to your health, and they’re both nocturnal. But, when it comes down to it, mice and rats are very different and require separate considerations.

a roof rat on a wood pile

Because they are both territorial creatures, the two species of rodents don’t cohabitate, so you’ll either have mice, or you’ll have rats; you’ll seldom have both. Here are some of the detectable ways you can differentiate between the two rodents.


  • They’re usually 2-4 inches long; much smaller than rats.
  • They have a triangular snout with long whiskers.
  • Their ears are large and floppy.
  • Their tails are long, thin, and hairy.


  • They’re much larger than mice; they can grow up to 9 inches long.
  • Their snouts are blunter.
  • Their ears are small compared to the rest of their bodies.
  • Their tails are long, scaly, and appear hairless.

Behavior wise, mice are much bolder than rats. Mice like to explore new things; they have a more curious nature, whereas rats are more cautious of the unknown. Rats generally live in a state of fear and prefer to investigate new things before jumping right in.

So, Which Is Worse?

That’s a fair question, but the answer is subjective. It depends on what you’re more willing to deal with.

Rats are more aggressive than mice when it comes to having contact with humans. While mice will run away if they see a person, rats are less likely to flee. In fact, they can become threatened and may attack you if they’re cornered. Rats are bigger than mice and cannot climb very well (unless we are talking about roof rats). They tend to stay at ground level and inhabit the lower levels of a structure. Mice, on the other hand, are great climbers and can fit into very small holes and openings higher up on your property. This makes it easier for them to spread to new places and to create nests.

Mice reproduce at a much faster rate than rats. Their ability to rapidly grow their population can become a huge problem if left unchecked. Mice produce larger litters at a more frequent rate than rats. One mouse can have up to 128 offspring in one year, while rats only average around 48 offspring annually.

There are some characteristics both mice and rats possess. They’re both public health pests, meaning they both carry diseases and spread bacteria. They can both contaminate your food-prep surfaces and other areas of your home and pose a real threat to your health.

They both chew through things, meaning they can cause extensive property damage. Mice have weaker teeth than rats, so they can’t chew through as much, but they can still do some real damage. For instance, the constant gnawing of wires in your home can cause electrical shortages, or even fires, putting you and your loved ones in harm’s way.

Both rats and mice are an absolute nightmare to discover in your home. Neither rodent is welcome. The safest and most effective way to deal with a rodent infestation is to contact the professionals at Aruza Pest Control. Our team of pest experts is familiar with the differences between rats and mice so they can properly identify your infestation and then eliminate it accordingly. Call us today to rid your home of mice or rats once and for all.

Ian Gunn

Graduated from UNC Charlotte, Ian Gunn is an expert in all things pest. After receiving his bachelors of science, he got a job offer with Aruza Pest Control and assists with marketing, networking, and occasionally doing some pest control of his own!

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