The Differences Between Mice And Rats In NJ

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!

house mouse inside a home eating seeds

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!

Home Protection Program

Service consists of the elimination of your current pest or rodent problem, complemented by both interior and exterior year-round protection of your home, which is inclusive of three seasonal visits. The program covers your entire property including attics, mailboxes, playsets, sheds, and fences.

Pests targeted with Arrow’s Home Protection Plan services include ants (excluding carpenter ants, pharaoh ants and acrobatic), bees, boxelder bugs, carpenter bees, carpet beetles, centipedes, cicada killers, clover mites, crickets, digger bees, earwigs, fabric & paper pests, fleas (inside only), ground beetles, hornets, mice, pillbugs, millipedes, rats, roaches, silverfish, sowbugs, spiders, springtails, stored product pests, and wasps.

*If you have a pool house that requires service, pricing would increase based upon the size of the structure.
The Arrow Promise
Starting at
Program Price Calculator
Move the slider left to right based on your homes sq foot size for an estimated cost for services.**
*some exclusions may apply
**Initial fees may apply
or call now (732) 844-8640
Dr. Lisa L.


‟Arrow and Brian with Arrow were amazing! He came same day when we heard scary noises in our attic. He found mice and a loose wire and even took a photo so we could see. He worked hard to crawl into a tiny space and we are so appreciate!! We can sleep tonight thanks to him.”
Dr. Lisa L.
East Brunswick, NJ
Arrow Pest Control received an average rating of 5.0 out of 5 stars from 1380 reviews. 5.0 Read Google Reviews

Request Your FREE Estimate

Schedule Your No Obligation Inspection Today

There was a problem with your submission. Please correct the issues below

or call now (732) 844-8640
Please wait…

Additional Services

Our solutions are designed for even your toughest pest problems.
Don’t let pests affect your quality of life, here's how we can help:

Arrow Pest Control Blog

Read the latest articles & news
roaches on kitchen floor of paramus nj home
September 21, 2022

Is It Normal To See More Bugs Right After A Treatment?

You spent money on professional pest control only to find that your pest problem has gotten worse-…
Read More
preventing spider infestations with a professional spider control service
September 6, 2022

Late-Summer Spider Infestations In New Jersey

Summer is wrapping up, the kids are back in school, and if you’re like so many others, you’re…
Read More
stink bug on an outdoor chair on a north bergen nj deck
August 16, 2022

How To Keep Stink Bugs Out This Fall

With a few weeks to go before the official arrival of fall, you might be thinking it’s too soon to…
Read More