Rats and mice.
Most people use these terms interchangeably to refer to rodents that invade many Singapore homes and premises with damages caused. While they share many uncanny similarities—long tails, beady black eyes, and long whiskers—rats and mice are actually two different species that belong to the same family.
Identifying which has made its way into your home is a critical step in pest control. The good news? Several signs can tell you which pest is invading your property.
In this article, we will be focusing on what makes these pests different and why knowing them matters.
The Difference between Rats and Mice
There are at least 8 types of mice and rats in Singapore, 3 of which are by far the most prevalent and most damaging in homes and business due to their ability to adapt to the environment. These are the following:
- Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus, also known as the common or Norway rat): A Norway rat has a blunt snout and short ears with dark hair; a heavy and thick body covered in a brown/black shading and a shaggy coat. Its tail can be dark on top but pale underneath and an adult can weigh an average of 300g.
- Ship Rat (Rattus rattus, also known as the roof rat or black rat) : This type of rat is characterised by a pointed snout, light and slender body, and large ears with no hair. They usually have a grey to black coat, a dark tail, and can weigh approximately 200 grams.
- House Mouse (Mus domesticus): A house mouse generally has a small head, pointed snout, small feet, and large ears with a few strands of hair. They have a light brown or grey body with a long, thin, dark hair and can weigh anywhere from 12 to 45g.
In summary, these are the main differences between rats and mice, in terms of appearance:
- Rats are larger, while mice tend to have smaller proportions through their body.
- Mice have larger ears, a more pointed snout, and a smaller fuzzy tail.
Habitat, Breeding, and Behaviour
The physical characteristics of these two species probably look the same to an amateur observer and this is where it gets a little more confusing: rats and mice share some common behaviours:
- They both find their way into homes to seek shelter, water, and food
- They gnaw through anything (clothes, wood, walls, etc.)
- They carry diseases and can trigger allergies and conditions like asthma
- They leave behind droppings, urine odours, and gnaw marks along their way.
- They are nocturnal and are most active at night.
Despite these similarities, there are some distinctions too in terms of the following:
How they invade homes
In search of food, water, and shelter, rats are generally very cautious. Mice, on the other hand, can be bolder and curious to investigate anything new. It means between the two, mice are more likely to fall for traps, bait, and other pest control efforts. Meanwhile, it may take more than a bait to trick a rat.
How they breed
A mouse can live about a year, during which it can breed up to 5 dozen pups in a year. Meanwhile, a Norway rat can have 6 litters of up to 12 pups in its approximately 18-month lifespan; and a ship rat can have up to 8 litters of up to 8 pups in a year.
What they eat
While mice and rats could eat anything, they also have individual preferences of what they eat. For mice, these are cereal grains and plants; for rats, these are fresh grain and meat.
Where they nest
Being smaller, mice should have no problem fitting into the smallest of holes and building their nest near food sources. Rats, on the other hand, prefer to dig into the ground or inhabit lower levels of a building such as a basement or a crawlspace.
You can see the difference in their droppings too. A mound of droppings that are visibly smaller and sporting pointy ends may suggest you are dealing with a mouse. Consequently, droppings that are longer and fewer in number may indicate a rat infestation.
So, Why Do You Need to Identify Rats & Mice?
Knowing which rodent you may be dealing with is a crucial step in determining how to address the problem.
For instance, because rats are quite cautious of their surroundings and mice are quite the opposite, the pest control method that may work for one may not be as successful for the other.
Add it to the fact that rats are innately smart and tricky, making it more difficult to control them. They are agile and can squeeze even in the smallest of gaps, reproduce quickly, adaptive, and highly suspicious of their surroundings.
However, while tricky, there are still ways to deter rats and prevent an infestation. These include proofing your home by denying them entry, removing their access to food and water sources, properly managing your wastes, and more importantly, engaging the help of a professional.
Pest Control by Rentokil
Whether you are dealing with a full-blown mouse or rat infestation, our pest control specialists at Rentokil can help strategise a plan for preventing and removing rodents from your home.
These may include our innovative PestConnect Service solution, an online connected system that provides 24/7 monitoring, rapid response, and protection against rats and mice. Using wireless technology, this can detect, capture, and eliminate rodents using traps, bait stations, and monitors more effectively.
To learn more about how. we can keep your home rodent-free, get in touch with one of our pest control specialists today. Call us at (65) 6347 8138