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The Differences Between Mice And Rats In NJ

October 7, 2020

mouse outside new jersey home

Over the years we’ve blogged about mice and rats – a lot! Most recently we’ve answered common questions about mice and how COVID-19 is affecting the rat population in New Jersey. We’ve also created thorough pest identification pages for the rodents of the Garden state. What we’ve not discussed, or at least not in depth, is the differences between mice and rats. So today and in light of the fact that property owners across the state are encountering both types of rodents more frequently, we’re focusing on that topic.  We hope our readers find this helpful!

Aren’t all rodents the same?

By definition and according to the Merriam-Webster website, rodents are any order of relatively small gnawing mammals that have in both jaws a single pair of incisors with a chisel-shaped edge. Mice, rats, hamsters, and guinea pigs are more commonly known types of rodents but this order also include beavers, squirrels, and voles. Though they look similar, moles are not rodents. 

Now that we’ve covered what is a rodent and what is not, let’s zero in on two of New Jersey’s most obnoxious, destructive and disease spreading rodents – the house mouse and the Norway rat!

How to tell the difference between house mice and Norway rats

Sure, they’re both rodents and operate in a similar manner but we must be clear, they are different.


First off, let’s compare size. The award for the longest and heaviest rodent of the two goes to the Norway rat. This critter on average grows up to 16 inches in length including its tail. That’s twice the length of the house mouse who measures in at approximately eight inches from top of head to the end of tail. As for weight, the Norway rat tips the scale at eight ounces while mice barely squeak out an ounce (no pun intended).


Aside from their marked size difference, the house mouse and the Norway rat have individual looks that help tell them apart.

  • Mice have dark gray bodies with lighter colored bellies. Their large ears and thin tails are covered in a velvety-like fur. They’re also equipped with small beady eyes and pointed noises.
  • Norway rats, on the other hand, have scruffy brown fur that is sprinkled with black hairs. Their undersides are also lighter in color. They have small ears, bulging eyes, and blunt noses. Their tails are bi-colored, typically darker colored on top and lighter on bottom.


If you’re a mom of boys or just have friends whose sense of humor is sophomoric at best, you can be sure most conversations include potty talk. While we like to avoid the discussion of number two as often as possible, it’s imperative to note the difference in the size and amounts of rodent droppings between our two subjects.

  • House mice droppings measure about 1 cm in length, are dark brown in color typically, and have pointed ends. Norway rat poop measures about 2 cm in length, are usually brown in color, and have blunt ends.
  • While house mice do not triumph in size (in any category really), they must be recognized as the rodent who leaves behind the most droppings in a single day, that’s 150 vs 50.


  • The expression, curiosity killed the cat, could also be applied to mice. These inquisitive rodents are bolder than Norway rats and may venture out of their safe spaces to investigate any changes around them which includes the placement of mouse traps. Norway rats are more cautious.
  • Nesting behavior is another key difference between house mice and Norway rats. Indoors, mice construct nests in areas near food sources. They do not constrain themselves to ground level but will infest all levels of a house. Norway rats are poor climbers and tend to establish nests in basements or ground floors. That said, they have been found infesting attics and areas higher up.
  • Both mice and rats are capable of breeding year-round if conditions are suitable. House mice may produce up to eight litters (4-7 babies) per year while Norway rats have six litters (4-8 babies) per year.
  • Lastly, how far they travel may distinguish the two rodents. Mice may travel as far as 50 feet away from their nest whereas Norway rats are willing to forage for food up to 300 feet away from their nest.

What do you do if you find signs of rodent activity?

For homes and businesses in Elizabeth, Parsippany-Troy Hills, and East Orange or elsewhere in our pest control company’s service area, Arrow Pest Control offers effective rodent control services.

When you contact us for help getting rid of mice, rats or both, we’ll send out a highly trained and licensed pest control professional to inspect your property. Our inspection will cover both the interior and exterior of the structure as well as surrounding property to identify the rodent(s), evaluate the severity of the infestation, and find any conditions that are conducive to rodents.

Based on our assessment, we’ll outline a plan of action that includes elements of population control, rodent exclusion, and monitoring; explain how much our rodent control costs, and then get to work upon your approval!

We also offer home pest control plans that include protection against rodents!

Arrow Premier 

tech inspecting for ways pests get into your new jersey homeIf you’re looking for a program that protects your home and family from common household pests PLUS termites and other wood-destroying insects, we recommend Arrow Premier. With this program, you get quarterly pest control and a wood-destroying insect program in one package! 

  • Protects your home all year long.
  • Consists of full interior and exterior inspections and treatments.
  • Covers your entire property* including the attic, mailbox, play set, shed, and fence.
  • Includes a certified termite inspection and ongoing termite control.

Pests targeted with Arrow’s Premier includes cockroaches, silverfish, spiders, earwigs, clover mites, millipedes, centipedes, crickets, ground beetles, boxelder bugs, ants (including carpenter ants, pharaoh ants and acrobatic), fleas (inside only), pillbugs, sow bugs, fruit flies, stored product pests, bees, wasps, hornets, carpenter bees (no higher than 10ft), mice, and rodents PLUS termites

*If you have a pool house that requires service, pricing would increase based upon the size of the structure.


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