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What’s the Difference Between Mice and Rats?

Do you use the words rats and mice interchangeably? We all do – but there’s a difference.

By I Kid You Not , in Did You Know Facts to Know What's the Difference Between , at September 23, 2022 Tags: , , , ,

Do you use the words rats and mice interchangeably? We all do – but there’s a difference.

Do you know what the baby of a mouse or rat is called? (scroll to the end to know!)

Let’s find out the difference between the two

Image Credit: rentokil.co.uk
1. The size

A mouse is smaller and a rat is bigger.

The typical house mouse, as it’s called, is anywhere from two to four inches in length, but rats can measure seven to nine inches in length. Of course, it may be easy to distinguish between the two if both are at adult size, but a baby rat (called a pup) that has not reached full size can look similar to an adult house mouse.

The appearance

The nose

A rat
A mouse

A mouse has more of a triangular nose
A rat’s nose is not triangular, it’s blunter.

The tail

A house mouse

A mouse has a long, thin tail with hair
A rat’s tail is are usually hairless and scaly.

The ears

Rats have larger ears in size compared to mice.

A rat
A mouse

Based only on body ear proportion/ratio  – mice have more prominent ears. 


Both rats and mice fall into the rodent category but there are some differences in their behaviours.

Mice tend to be a bit bolder than rats
Mice are usually more curious and will explore new things, including traps and therefore it is easier to trap a mouse than a rat.

Rats are very cautious about new things and won’t explore like mice. 

Damage caused 

Both rats and mice can cause major damage.

Mice have weaker teeth than rats, so food properly stored in glass or metal can prevent the mice from eating it, but that may not be the case with rats

Rats have stronger teeth and have been known to eat through materials like aluminium, wood, glass, and metal sheet.


Mice are white, brown or grey in colour
Rats are white, brown, grey or black .

Genetic differences

Mice have 20 chromosome pairs and 2.6 million base pairs
Rats have 21 chromosome pairs and 2.75 million base pairs.

Digging burrows

Mice do not dig deep; even if they do, it’s shallow
Rats dig deep and long burrows (nests). 


Both rats and mice eat animals and plants, making them omnivores (food of both plant and animal origin).

But rats look for bigger meals like meat, pet food, and fish.
Mice prefer a healthier diet including fruits, vegetables, and nuts, but they’ll also eat what a rat will eat – including dead mice and rats.


A female mouse produces between 200 to 300 babies whereas a female rat will make 2000 babies.

Hope that makes it clear 🙂

Did you know: A baby mouse or rat is called a pup

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