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Mice Rats And Rodents

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A mouse might be cute in some situations. It might resemble something of a cuddly little hamster. That is until you get way up north and start battling foot-long sewer rats. A tiny little hamster-size rat can do tremendous amounts of damage to an unvacated property.

Even the runt of a big litter possesses the ability to chew through steel drainpipes with ease.

What makes the situation even worse and what most homeowners don’t understand is the rodent’s innate desire to chew. Rodents don’t gnaw on wood, wires, drywall, and other construction materials because they like to. No, these guys have an insatiable desire in their teeth and jaws that can only be satisfied with chewing. Think of a baby teething, where he or she will need to constantly chew on a pacifier for relief.

That’s just an interesting bit about rodents that most people don’t understand. With such knowledge, one can equip themselves to much better battle the rodent. Here’s what you need to know to successfully take on the rodent family.

The Rodent Family: The Difference Between A Rat And Mouse

The first and most important thing to establish here is that although rats and mice belong to the rodent family, they are not entirely the same invader. They also look similar and possess that similar insatiable chewing desire, but in mentality and attitude, they are much different.

Along with that, the next biggest noticeable difference between the two is the size. Rats are much large and therefore heavier. Mice are a bit more on the slender side with smaller bodies and long, narrow tails. Another interesting piece to note is that the tail of a mouse also contains fur, whereas the tail of a rat is bald. This along with the size can be one of the greatest quick identifying aids.

If things aren’t already confusing enough, you should also note that there are also various species in the mouse and rat family. Certain species will only be found in specific regions of the world, whereas other species can be located all over. Take the giant sewer rat reference from earlier. These rats are typically only found in New York or anywhere else that possesses such complex sewer systems. The species breeds and lives down there feeding on sewage and garbage for years and years.

As a matter of fact, that is one of the most interesting things about these rodents and a vying factor of what makes them so hard to get rid of. They are extremely adaptable! Put them just about anywhere and they will not only survive but will also thrive. Unfortunately, this is the case for the species that will be found on most landed properties These would be the Brown Rat, the Black Rat, and the House Mouse.

The House Mouse does also have several subspecies in its family, but even to an expertly trained eye, they are indistinguishable. It is impossible to differentiate between them on sight, therefore, most people have just begun to classify them all as House Mice.

Identifying The Mouse

While examining these rodents, you’ll probably quickly notice that they all have common identifying features. The incisor teeth along with the upper jaw would be the perfect examples. Their legs are also short in stature and have long tails. Just remember, the mice’s tails are the ones covered in hair. That aside, there are other characteristics that will help home and property owners distinguish between the two.

The easiest and quickest way to determine whether you are dealing with a mouse is by noting its smaller body size. These sharp-toothed invaders usually only grow anywhere from 3 to 10 cm long. The rat, on the other hand, can reach 16 to 40 cm. Despite this, it might still be easy to confuse the two at the height of panic and hysteria.

Interestingly enough, it is the ears that will help most when it comes to determining age. Mature mice have larger ears and longer tails. What’s even more interesting is the fact that it is the younger of the two that has the larger feet. As far as color goes, mice usually appear in greys, browns, and a light tan.

Identifying The Rat

As was established earlier, there are commonly more species of rats than mice, so rat identification might require a bit more work. Once determine you are in fact dealing with a rat, you’ll have to go a step further and determine if that rat is a Brown Rat or a Black Rat. The biggest identifying factor should be clearly abundant in the names.

Brown Rat: All that aside, the Brown Rat is commonly referred to as the Norway Rat. These variations are larger than Black Rats and are more commonly found in the United States. They possess thick bodies with short tails, small hairy eyes, and a blunt, little nose. Their favorite pastime snacks include cereals. One of the best ways to determine if your pantry has been invaded by this species is by taking note of the mess left behind. The leftovers should give the appearance they have been chopped. They require 60 ml of water daily and usually tend to navigate back to the same feeding grounds. This will make capture much easier.

Black Rat: Black Rats, like the Brown Rat, do have common nicknames which include the Roof Rat and Ship Rat. This species is a tad on the smaller side and more commonly found in parts of the United Kingdom, although not entirely rare in the States. With a much slender body, larger ears, and a pointed nose, these guys might closer resemble a typical mouse. Cereal is also a past favorite of the Black Rat, but they also like fruits or anything packed with moisture. Their leftovers will give that same familiar chopped look. While they only require 30 ml of water daily, they are smarter about their survival habits and tend to frequent various feeding grounds.

Housing Locations

Although Brown Rats live above ground, they will build burrows. In buildings, outdoors, and sewer systems are where these invaders can commonly be located. Their burrows are usually extensive and require a lot of work and attention. Such burrows have also been known to cause major problems in the sewers. Another interesting bit about the Brown Rat is that it tends to walk on the pads of its feet. This is important to note, as such positioning causes the stomach to interact with the ground surface, normally leaving behind oily fur smudges.

Black Rat Housing

Black Rats are typically restricted to buildings around ports or ships, hence the nickname Ship Rat. Agile with excellent climbing abilities, this species prefers to build its nests higher up under roofs for safety purposes. In warmer climates, they’ll even prefer to nest in the tops of trees like a bird. Woodlands and orchards are a preferred favorite. These guys tend to creep around on their toes rather than the pads of their feet, which make them quieter and more agile.

Mouse Housing

Mice will take residence on the ground and in similar burrows to that of the Brown Rat. These invaders are also agile and should be considered climbing experts, although they prefer to nest on the ground. If you are dealing with a heavy mouse infestation, you’ll likely notice it right away because of the grease, dirt, and urine they track around everywhere. They said a mouse infestation can sometimes be harder to determine because of the low footprint. They possess the patience to remain in one location for an extremely long period.


Without a doubt, the quickest most surefire way to determine a rodent infestation is by locating droppings. As a matter of fact, a trained eye can determine which type of species they are dealing with by properly examining the droppings. Droppings are always plentiful and widespread, so you likely won’t miss them.

Brown Rat Droppings: The droppings from a Brown Rat are wide and dark brown in color. They are usually also tapered in shape, resembling something of a spindle or a grain of rice.

Black Rat Droppings: Long and thin and smaller brown, a Black Rat’s droppings are typically curved or arched like a banana with pointed ends.

Mouse Droppings: Anywhere from 3 to 8 mm in length, mouse droppings can be scattered randomly throughout the occupied area. These are usually granular in shape, black in color, and will be plentiful near the nesting area.

Breeding Habits

A rodent infestation is certainly not something you’ll want to linger. Allowing the infestation to linger will not only allow the species to grow and spread, but it’ll end up causing more damage. Even if the rodents are living inside the walls, they are likely doing untold amounts of damage. As far as breeding and number go, it’ll be the mouse that home and property owners should fear most.

They possess unmatched breeding abilities with their early maturity and innate desire to produce large litters. When born all newborns are blind, hairless, and completely dependent on the mother of the pack. A typical House Mouse mother can give birth to anywhere from 4 to 16 babies every 8 to 12 weeks. They typically give birth 7 to 8 times a year. Just do the math, and you’ll see that a mouse infestation is no joking matter. You’ll need the assistance of a pro, as typical traps and lures aren’t going to do the job.

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Mice Rat and Rodents