If you suspect you have a rodent problem, or if you keep them as pets, you’ll likely have several questions about mice and rats. You might even want to know the best ways to get rid of them if their presence isn’t voluntary. So, can rats and mice live in the same house?
Rats and mice rarely live in the same house. Wild rats are predators for outdoor mice and will eat them when they can. If you keep mice or rats as pets, it’s not recommended that you cage these rodents together. Even domestic rats will try to hurt or eat any mice they cross paths with.
Let’s take a closer look at whether rats and mice will live in the same house.
Will Mice and Rats Live Together in the Same House?
If you have a rodent problem in your home, you might be wondering if they’re mice, rats, or both. The truth is rats and mice aren’t likely to be found living in the same area. If you find mice and rats in the same house, it’s usually because their populations are so large.
Or you might keep them as beloved pets. If that’s the case, there’s another section of this article that’ll cover that.
Rats are predators to mice. They’ll hunt, kill, and eat any lone mice they come across. So, if you see a rat in your home, they may be hunting mice — you might have a mouse infestation! Reach out to an exterminator if you suspect rats and mice are living in your home.
If there’s enough food to feed both rats and mice, you may find that they can live in the same house without the rats killing the mice. However, once the food supply for both species drops, the rats will turn toward eating the mice.
When Are Mice and Rats a Problem?
Rats and mice can transmit disease and bring with them other pests, so it’s essential to get a handle on the situation before it gets out of hand.
It’s very rare to see both rats and mice living in the same house. If this occurs, you could have a bigger problem than you may have initially thought. It could indicate you have an infestation of mice. If you do have an infestation, avoid handling it yourself. It’s best to call a professional exterminator.
Mice and Rats Are Quite Different
Mice and rats may be rodents and look somewhat similar, but they’re very different species. While they do share some similarities, it’s more than just their size that’s different. Below are some of the most significant differences between the two.
They Look Much Different When Compared to Each Other
The first noticeable difference is their size. Rats are much larger than mice. The common field mouse, which is the most common mouse to find in your house, typically weighs around half an ounce. They’re usually light brown with a dark-colored tail.
Rats are much bigger. The most common rats you are likely to find in your home are either roof rats or Norway rats. Roof rats are typically around seven ounces, while the Norway rat can weigh up to eleven ounces. The Norway rat is dark-haired with a thick body and short ears. Norway rats have shaggy black fur, while the roof rat has a sleek black coat.
Mice and Rats Have Different Feeding Habits
Mice will typically go for grains and plants. This will usually keep them outside, but if mice do make their way into your home, they can develop a taste for food scraps and garbage. This will cause them to stay in your home and build their nests.
Rats require a lot more food to sustain themselves. You’ll notice rat droppings are much larger than mice droppings. This is one of the best ways to determine if you have mice or rats. You can also look for claw marks and gnaw marks. These will also be larger than if you had a mouse problem.
Rats and Mice Move Differently
Mice are curious, and rats are cautious. Mice will go into your home out of curiosity and stay when they find interesting foods and things to build nests. Rats are more skittish and will shy away from unfamiliar things.
Mice can jump, swim and climb very well, but what’s interesting is how they lift themselves onto their hind legs. They support themselves with their tails, and they’ll use this posture to fight and climb.
Rats can enter your home through a gap in the wall as small as half an inch. They’re excellent swimmers and will occasionally enter a home through the toilet if that’s an option. As their name suggests, roof rats will live in the attic and on the upper floor. Norway rats will remain in the lower level and basements. That means you could potentially have both in your home.
Rats Dig, Burrow, and Typically Live Underground or in Sewers
Rats need large areas to hide and protect themselves. Mice can move in much smaller spaces, which is why they’re more likely to be found inside your home. A clean home or apartment isn’t going to make a good shelter for a rat.
A rat is more likely to be found outside in a burrow underground or a sewer. These areas give them a much larger space to hide from predators. However, as mentioned above, if you have a large population of mice living in your home, you might attract a rat or two if they’re hungry enough.
Best Way To Remove Mice and Rats From Your Home
If you’re looking for ways to keep mice and rats out of your home, there are a few different things you could try. Check out some of those ways in the list below.
Set Traps Frequently and in the Path of Mice
Mice are curious animals and will willingly explore their surroundings. If they smell or see food in their path, they’ll try to eat it. This is great for setting traps because you know they won’t avoid them.
The most humane traps to use are the ones that will kill the mouse instantly. Tape traps and other similar traps often prolong the death of the mouse. Or the mice will chew off their own body part to escape the trap.
Get Rats Used to the Traps Slowly
Rats are much more cautious and won’t be attracted to a new trap that’s placed directly in its path. The best solution to this is to place unset traps in the area you know the rats are in the most. Allow the rats time to get accustomed to seeing the traps in their space. Once you have given them time, place set traps in their path, and they should fall for the trap.
Again, the most humane ways of killing rats are instant kills. You can also contact your local exterminator to discuss the best way to remove rats from your home.
Keep Food in Plastic Containers
Mice love grains and will use the cardboard from food boxes for their nests. If you keep your food in plastic containers, it’ll deter the mice from having a constant food source. The same can be said for rats. Cutting off their food supply is a slow way of removing mice and rats from your home.
Spray Strong Smelling Oils and Fragrances
Mice are opposed to the odor of rats, but it’s unlikely you want to spray that smell around your home. Rodents are typically offended by peppermint oil and will steer clear of houses that smell like it. Just spreading a little around the base of your home should keep them away.
Seal Any Holes in the Building
If you have a mouse or rat problem, they’re entering your home from somewhere. As mentioned before, a rat only needs half an inch to get inside, and a mouse needs even less. Seal up any holes or gaps in your home’s foundation or base to prevent rodents from getting in.
Can Mice and Rats Coexist Together as Pets?
It’s strongly advised to keep mice and rats in separate cages if you’re going to keep them both as pets. No matter how domesticated your rats might be, they’re still likely to hurt or attempt to eat your mice if you aren’t careful.
If you aren’t the type to keep mice or rats as pets, you don’t want them sharing space in your home. However, you might be disappointed if you did intend to keep mice and rats as pets. Hopefully, this article has answered if rats and mice can live in the same house.
- Stop Pests: Can rats and mice coexist?
- Skedaddle Wildlife: Can You Have Mice and Rats at the Same Time?
- The NY Times: The Mouse Around the House
- The Spruce: The Difference Between Rats and Mice and Why It Matters
- Rat Recovery: Will Mice and Rats Live Together?
- Discover Wildlife: How to get rid of mice and rats in your house
- Home Serve: How to deter mice and rats from your home
- Mom.com: CAN YOU MIX DIFFERENT RODENTS IN THE SAME CAGE?
- PetFinder: Caring for Rats and Mice