Rats and mice are common rodents that can cause problems for homeowners and businesses in and around South Carolina. They can damage property, contaminate food, spread diseases, and harm native wildlife. Terminix is here to help you prevent and control these pests, starting with answering your most-asked questions about rats and mice.

Rats vs. Mice: Everything You Need to Know

There’s a lot for you to learn and consider when it comes to mice vs. rats. But let’s start with the basics.

What are Rats and Mice?

Rats and mice are prevalent small mammals that belong to the order Rodentia, which conveniently means “gnawing animal.” They have sharp incisor teeth that grow continuously and need to be worn down by chewing on various materials, giving them that moniker. Rats and mice are omnivorous, meaning they eat plant and animal matter. They are also adaptable, intelligent, and social animals that can live in various habitats, most of which we all hope they’d avoid.

How are Rats and Mice Similar?

If you don’t normally interact with rodents, it can be easy to assume mice and rats are the same. Rats and mice share some common characteristics, such as:

  • They’re known for having poor vision but excellent senses of touch, taste, and smell.
  • They’re nocturnal.
  • They communicate with each other using high-frequency sounds that humans cannot hear. 
  • They reproduce rapidly and can produce several litters of offspring per year.
  • They can carry and transmit various parasites and pathogens affecting humans and other animals.

How are Rats and Mice Different?

While these small rodents share many similarities, they have various differences. Rats and mice differ in several aspects, such as:

  • Size: Rats are generally larger than mice, with longer bodies, heads and tails. 
  • Appearance: Rats have rougher fur, blunt snouts, short ears and scaly tails. Mice have softer fur, pointed noses, large ears and hairy tails.
  • Behavior: Rats are more cautious of new things, while mice are more curious and exploratory. Rats are more social and tend to live in large groups, while mice are more solitary and tend to live alone or in small groups.
  • Preference: Rats prefer urban areas, where they can find abundant food and shelter. Mice can live anywhere, from rural to suburban to urban environments.

What are the Most Common Types of Rats and Mice in South Carolina?

As you might have already experienced, mice and rats are common across the United States. The most common types of rats and mice that you may encounter in South Carolina are:

  • The house mouse (Mus musculus): This is a tiny mouse with a light brown body, gray shading, and a dark tail. It is the most widespread rodent species in the world and can be found in homes, farms, warehouses, factories and other buildings.
  • The Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus) is a large rat with a brown body black shading and a shaggy coat. It is also known as the brown rat, sewer rat, or wharf rat. It is the most common rat species in urban areas and can be found in sewers, basements, garbage dumps, docks and other places near water sources.
  • The roof rat (Rattus rattus) is a medium-sized rat with a gray body with black shading and a smooth coat. It is also known as the black, ship, or house rat. It is more common in warmer climates and coastal regions. It can be found in attics, roofs, walls, trees, vines and other high places.

How Do I Know if I Have a Rat or Mouse Infestation?

There are definitely some key things to look for if you think you have a rodent infestation. These include:

  • Droppings: Rats and mice leave behind droppings that vary in shape, color, demeanor and size depending on the species. Mouse droppings are shaped like rods, Norway rat droppings are shaped like capsules, and roof rat droppings are shaped like spindles.
  • Gnaw marks: Rats and mice gnaw on various materials such as wood, plastic, wires, insulation, pipes, furniture, clothing, books, food packaging and more.
  • Tracks: Rats and mice leave behind tracks or footprints on dusty or muddy surfaces. You can also use flour or talcum powder to reveal their tracks. Mouse tracks have four toes on the front feet and five on the hind feet. Rat tracks have four toes on the front feet but only three visible toes on the hind feet.
  • Rub marks: Rats and mice leave behind rub marks or grease stains along their travel routes. These marks are caused by their oily fur rubbing against walls, floors, pipes, wires, and other surfaces.
  • Nests: Rats and mice build nests in hidden and protected areas near food and water sources. They use various soft materials such as shredded paper, fabric, insulation, grass, and more to build their nests. 
  • Sounds: Rats and mice make various sounds, such as squeaking, gnawing, scratching, scurrying, etc. These sounds are more noticeable at night when rodents are more active. 
  • Odors: Rats and mice produce unpleasant odors from their urine, feces and carcasses. These odors can be detected by humans or pets such as dogs or cats.

If you notice any of these signs in your home, it’s time to call in a rodent control expert.

Do Rats Eat Mice? 

Yes, rats do eat mice when they’re hungry. Rats are larger than mice and well-equipped with their rather long, powerful teeth to attack and kill the diminutive creatures. Mice are afraid of rats and will avoid them whenever possible. 

Can Mice and Rats Live Together? 

No, mice and rats can’t live together because of their size difference, territorial nature and overall genetic makeup. In fact, the two, more often than not, clash detrimentally.

Rats will hunt and kill mice if they get the chance and may even eat them. Mice will be stressed and terrified by the presence or smell of rats, leading to chaos. This is also important to remember if you keep rodents as pets.

How do I Prevent Rats and Mice From Entering My Property?

Unfortunately, there’s no way to prevent rats from entering your physical property, but there are plenty of rodent prevention tips to keep them out of your home. These rat and mice prevention tips include: 

  1. Sealing any gaps or holes, now matter how small, that rodents can use to enter your property.
  2. Storing food in tightly-sealed containers and disposing of garbage regularly, refraining from leaving anything out overnight.
  3. Removing any clutter or debris that rodents can use to hide or nest, as well as keeping your yard and garden clean and trimmed, removing any piles of wood, leaves, grass, and other debris where rodents can thrive.
  4. Repairing any leaks or drips that rodents can use to drink and to eliminate any standing water.
  5. Trimming any branches or vines that rodents can use to climb onto your roof or walls. 

Rat and mice infestation giving you grief? It’s time to act quickly and effectively to eliminate them. Terminix offers professional pest control and rat and mice removal services that can help you eliminate these pests safely and efficiently. Our services include a thorough inspection, effective treatments, and preventative measures for long-lasting rodent prevention and removal.

Trust Terminix With Your Rodent Worries

Rats and mice are sneaky and they can cause significant problems for homeowners and businesses. They can damage property, contaminate food, spread diseases, and even attract other harmful pests like ticks, termites, mosquitos, snakes, and more. 

While these rodents have their similarities, it’s in their differences that you can figure out whether mice or rats are plaguing your home.

Terminix offers a variety of rodent-proofing solutions to help you reduce the current rodent population around your home or business, such as traps, baits, exclusion, sanitation, and professional services. Rats and mice are cunning and resilient creatures that can seriously threaten your health and safety. Don’t let them take over your home or business. 

For expert rat and mouse prevention, removal and remediation, trust Terminix.

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