What’s the difference between Rats and Mice?

What’s the difference between Rats and Mice? Many people think the terms can be used interchangeably. After all, they’re both furry little creatures with long wormlike tails. Even the species that can be kept as pets are called Fancy Rats and Fancy Mice respectively. Despite their similarities, the two are actually quite different species. Let’s dive into what makes a rat a rat and a mouse a mouse.



The most obvious difference between the two is their size. Fancy mice range from 2-4 inches in length while fancy rats’ range 7-9 inches in length. This means the average rat is two to three times larger than the average mouse.


The Tail

A mouse’s tail is long thin and covered in tiny fur while a rat’s is long thick and hairless. This is because while both mice and rats use their tails for help with balance while climbing, only rats use their tails for heat regulation.



Though rats are larger than mice, mice actually have the larger ears. A mouse’s ears are large and floppy while a rat’s are smaller. Though the mouse’s ears are bigger proportionally, rat’s actually have the bigger ears due to their significantly larger size.



Anyone who’s owned a hamster, gerbil, or any other manner of small pet knows they poop a lot. This is rings true for both rats and mice. Mice will produce double the daily droppings than rats, but a rat’s excrement is larger. Rat poop is roughly the size of a jellybean while mouse poop is about the size of sprinkles. 



Though rats are the larger species, mice are actually the more aggressive ones. Mice are more adventurous and outgoing in nature due to their curiosity. Comparatively, Rats are more fearful of their surroundings.



It used to be believed that rats are much more intelligent than mice. While recent studies suggest this gap is not as big as we thought, it can still be asserted that rats are more intelligent than mice due to their larger brain size.



On average, rats will live about six months longer than mice. A fancy rat’s lifespan is two to three years while a fancy mouse’s lifespan is only 1.5-2.5 years. Again, this can be attributed to their larger size.



Despite their many differences, rats and mice also share quite a few similarities. This is how the two became so closely tied together. Both are members of the rodent family. Rodents are known for their teeth that never stop growing. To prevent overgrowth, both rats and mice will constantly find themselves chewing. Additionally, both are omnivores. Rats and Mice will eat whatever they can get their hands on, fruits, vegetables, insects, meat, etc. 



While mice and rats share many similarities, they also have many features unique to their respect species. While rats are larger and more intelligent, Mice are faster and more adventurous. Regardless of which rodent you choose, both make great pets in any home.

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