The Difference Between Rats and Mice and Why It Matters
The Difference Between Rats and Mice and Why It Matters
- 1 The Difference Between Rats and Mice and Why It Matters
- 2 Mice Eat Everything, and Rats Will Too. Including Mice
- 3 Mouse vs. Rat Behavior
- 4 Physical Characteristics
- 5 Mice Habitat and Breeding
- 6 Mice Movement
- 7 Mice Facts
- 8 Rat Habitats and Breeding
- 9 Rat Movement
- 10 Killing rats and mice with rat poison [UPDATED 2020] Buyer’s Guide
- 11 Types of Rat Poisons: How Do Rodenticides Work
- 12 Slow and Fast Rat Poison: What’s the difference?
- 13 Expert Opinion: David Johnson, Professor of Biomedical Sciences, East Tennessee State University
- 14 Best Rat and Mouse Poisons
- 14.1 1. JT Eaton 166004 709-PN Bait Block Rodenticide Anticoagulant Bait | Best Slow-Acting
- 14.2 2. Farnam Just One Bite II Bait Chunks, 8lbs (64, 2 oz chuncks) | Best Fast-Acting
- 14.3 Rat Bait Stations | Tomcat & Protecta
- 14.4 3. MOTOMCO Tomcat Mouse and Rat Liquid Concentrated Bait
- 14.5 4. Tomcat All Weather Bait Chunx, 4 Lb
- 14.6 5. Neogen Ramik Green Fish Flavored Weather Resistant Rodenticide Nuggets
- 14.7 6. d-CON Rodenticide Rodent and Mouse Bait Station Corner Fit
- 15 Rat & Mouse Poison Baits Comparison Table
- 16 If you have a huge rat infestation, don’t want to get involved in a dirty job of dealing with them, and would like to be 100 sure in positive results — time to call the professionals!
- 17 How to Use Poisons: Rules & Tips
- 18 Pros & Cons of Slow Poison
- 19 Pros & Cons of Fast poison
- 20 What to look for when buying?
- 21 Poison Effectiveness: when rodenticide is better than other pest control methods?
- 22 Rat Poison Symptoms & First Aid
- 23 What precautions should I take when using rat poison?
- 24 Using Poisons on the Poultry Farm
- 25 What Is The Best Rat and Mouse Bait for Traps?
Mice Eat Everything, and Rats Will Too. Including Mice
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Besides the fact that rats and mice look different, there are quite a few other differences between them. Your rodent control efforts will be most successful when you understand each of these pests fully. Knowing things like their behavior, food preferences, and habitats will help aid your control efforts. What works to control mice will not necessarily work to control rats.
The most common rodent pests in the U.S are the Norway rat, the roof rat, and the house mouse. Small mousetraps that work for mice will not work for much larger rats. And, rat traps set on the floor will not capture roof rats that tend to stay up high.
9 Key Differences Between Rats and Mice
Mouse vs. Rat Behavior
One of the most important differences in behavior between mice and rats is that mice are curious and rats are cautious.
- Cautious rats: Rats are very careful and will choose to avoid new things in their path until they have had time to get used to them being there. Because of this, you need to place unset traps in the rat’s path before putting set rat traps there.
- Curious mice: Mice are very curious and will investigate anything new. So you have to do just the opposite for them: set the trap and put it right in its path. In fact, if you do not catch a mouse in the first few days, the trap is probably in the wrong place and should be moved.
There are over 70 species of mice and rats widely distributed across North America. The house mouse (Mus musculus), Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus) and roof rat (Rattus rattus) species are in the Muridae family, which is the largest family of rodents and mammals in the world.
- House mouse: Small head, small feet, pointed snout, large ears with some hair. These mice have a light brown body with some gray shading and a dark tail. Adults weigh 0.5 ounces (15 grams). The mice droppings are shaped like rods.
- Norway rat: Heavy and thick body, blunt snout, and short ears with dark hair. These rats have a brown body with black shading and a shaggy coat. Their tails are dark on top and pale underneath. Adults weigh 11 ounces (300 grams). Their droppings are shaped like capsules.
- Roof rat: Light and slender body, pointed snout, large ears with no hair. These rats have a gray body with black shading and a smooth coat and a dark tail. Adults weigh 7 ounces (200 grams). Their droppings are shaped like spindles.
Mice Habitat and Breeding
Mice prefer to eat cereal grains and plants, but they will feed on almost anything. A mouse will build its nest in a hidden area near a food source. It will use just about any soft material or finely shredded paper to build its nest.
In one year, one female mouse can breed up to 10 litters of five to six babies. That is up to five dozen baby mice in one year. Now consider that those 60 offspring can begin to reproduce in as little as six weeks. Mice usually live about 9 to 12 months.
Mice can stand up on their hind legs when supported by their tails. They do this to eat, fight or figure out where they are. Mice are excellent jumpers, swimmers, and climbers. They can even climb up rough, vertical surfaces. They can jump 13 inches high and run along wires, cables, and ropes. Mice are fast runners. Moving on all four legs, they hold their tail up straight for balance. But if they are frightened, they will just run straight out.
Mice are nocturnal and most active from dusk until dawn. They do not like bright lights, but will sometimes come out during the day looking for food or if their nest is disturbed. A mouse can slip through 1/4-inch holes and gaps.
- The house mouse is considered one of the top 100 world’s worst invaders.
- Mice are afraid of rats because rats will kill and eat mice. Rat odor can be a strong deterrent to mice and affect their behavior.
- Mice have a musky odor.
- Mice are color blind, but their other senses, hearing, smell, taste, and touch are sharp.
- Mice can be found indoors and outdoors including cities and rural areas.
- Signs of mice presence include droppings, gnawing marks, and tracks.
Rat Habitats and Breeding
Rats will eat nearly anything, but they prefer fresh grain and meat. Rats need 1/2 to one ounce of fluid each day. If rats do not get this in the food they eat, they have to find water. Unlike mice, which rarely burrow, rats will dig under buildings, along fences, and under plants and debris. The Norway rat lives mostly in burrows while the roof rat nests in walls, attics, and trees.
Per year, a female Norway rat can have six litters of up to 12 young. These 70 rats can start to breed by the time they are 3 months old. Rats breed primarily in the spring. Rats can live up to 12 to 18 months. The roof rat has smaller litters of up to eight young and can have eight litters per year.
Rats can enter a building through a hole as small as 1/2 inch in diameter. They are strong swimmers, so, rats will live in sewers and can enter buildings through broken drains or toilets. A rat will climb to get to the food, water, or shelter. Rats follow regular routines and paths each day. If new objects are set in its path, it will do whatever it can to avoid it. Rats usually stay within 300 feet of their nest or burrow.
Killing rats and mice with rat poison [UPDATED 2020] Buyer’s Guide
What is the best rat poison? We advise you to opt for slow-acting baits. They are safer to humans and pets as they require multiple feedings to kill. Rats will not associate the object with the poison effect and will not shy away from getting close to the trap. We recommend using a slow-acting JT Eaton 709.
JT Eaton 166004 709-PN Bait Block Rodenticide Anticoagulant Bait, Peanut Butter Flavor, for Mice and Rats (9 lb Pail of 144), Green
Why have we chosen it? The product contains the active ingredient Diphacinone that is more toxic to rats than other slow-acting compounds. Still, it requires multiple dose treatment. As a rule, the solution works within a week. The product comes in convenient blocks and is flavored with peanut to attract rodents.
Last update on 2020-04-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
After eating rodents die within from several hours to several weeks: mice may die within a day. But the population of rats die more slowly, within a week or two, because they are larger than mice. Remember — poison baits are toxic and can kill any animal including your home pets (cats and dogs).
What you’ll learn from this Guide:
Types of Rat Poisons: How Do Rodenticides Work
All of poison baits are lethal. Rodenticides are toxic to rodents (and unfortunately also to humans) in a variety of ways.
- Active ingredients in rodenticides that are anticoagulants (e.g., warfarin, diphacinone, and bromadiolone) disrupt the blood’s ability to clot, causing internal bleeding and rodents die from internal hemorrhages.
- Products containing non-anticoagulant affect the nervous system (e.g., bromethalin). They increase the levels of calcium in the blood, leading to kidney, liver, or heart failure (e.g., cholecalciferol).
Slow & Fast Acting poisons:
- First generation — poison kills rodents slowly, there are several days of feeding needed. Warfarin, chlorophacinone, and diphacinone are known as multiple-doseanticoagulants. They have a cumulative effect, so the rodents do not die immediately, rather within a few days. For best results, rats should eat the poisonous bait repeatedly — JT Eaton
- Second generation — a single feeding is enough (bromadiolone, brodifacoum) — Farnam
Using poison bait is generally cheaper than trapping because it is less labor-intensive, and they do not need to be checked every day. So it’s more beneficial to use poison bait in big areas and constructions – such as hangers, sheds etc., where other methods are inconvenient to use.
Slow and Fast Rat Poison: What’s the difference?
As you may know, there are three types of rat poison: first-generation anticoagulant, second-generation anticoagulant, and non-anticoagulants. However, they can be further divided into two categories: fast and slow poison. The table below further explains the difference between them, their pros&cons.
Pros & Cons of Fast poison
What to look for when buying?
- Size: for large rat populations choose a bucket of poison. If you have rats here and there, occasionally, then choose bait stations
- Ingredients: if you have children and pets in your household, then opt for a safer poison (1st generation), or choose other alternative elimination methods
- Choose the approved rodenticide. If you want to check if it has been approved by the EPA, then check it in the Pesticide Product and LabelSystem.
Poison Effectiveness: when rodenticide is better than other pest control methods?
Poison is never better than other pest control methods. It endangers biodiversity, put at risk your loved ones, and contaminates groundwater and soil.
However, if you are aware of the risks that pesticides entail and are still willing to take them. Then there are a couple of cases that can justify the use of poison:
- All other methods have failed to work
- You have a large rat infestation that damages your crops, vegetation, and property
- Rats put in danger your children
- Rats put your health at risk
- You want to exterminate most of the rat population before you switch to more safe and humane methods
Rat Poison Symptoms & First Aid
Common symptoms are the same in both humans and pets. Please, watch out for these and call 911 or Poison Control for Humans at 1-800-222-1222 and Animals at 1-888-426-4435 whenever you see these symptoms in others or experience them yourself:
- Anorexia: appetite loss
- Impaired movement or vision
- Blood in stool and vomit, nosebleeds, bleeding gums
- Weakness and fatigue
- Hair or fur loss
- Shortness of breath
Some of the symptoms may take time to develop: from a few hours to a few days.
Poisons and pets: First aid
Whenever you see your pet suffer the symptoms described above, call Animal Poison Control immediately. Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do at home to help your pet. Your pet might require prolonged treatment with Vitamin K.
Poison and humans: First aid
Call 911, Poison Control, or your doctor and receive first recommendations as to what you can take and do to help you deal with the first symptoms. Some of the meds the docs that advise you to take can be charcoal and syrup of ipecac. However, do not take any medication if not directed by professional. Charcoal may not work for some poisons or even make things worse. Vitamin K shots might be also necessary for full recovery.
What precautions should I take when using rat poison?
The following precautions are necessary for safe use of poison at home:
- Store it in original container
- Always use gloves when applying poison and wash hands immediately afterwards
- Do not handle baits near foodstuff
- Use bait stations to prevent pets and children from accessing them
How to safeguard my pets against poison?
Use bait stations: This way, your pets won’t be able to access it.
If my dog or cat eats a dead poisoned rat, will my pet die? Or does poison break down within the rat’s body?
Yes, there’s a risk of secondary poisoning. So whenever you think your pet consumed a dead rodent, please, call Animal Poison Control immediately.
Can I place a poisoned bait into a regular rat trap?
Yes, you can, but we do not recommend doing it. Your dog can access the bait and die, your child can be exposed to the poison, and suffer as well. So please use special bait stations to ensure no one in your household gets hurt.
What’s the difference between different colors of rat poison?
There’s no color coding standard for rat baits, but generally, the color indicates the main ingredient in it.
Which other pests can I kill using rat poison?
You can kill any pests with rodenticide. Anyone who consumes it can die.
Is rat poison a chemical hazard? Is it legal?
Of course. That is why it’s called a pesticide, and controlled by the EPA. Yes, it is legal. But using it to kill other animals is illegal.
Using Poisons on the Poultry Farm
Poultry houses and livestock barns are very attractive for rats for reasons that they provide places to hide and nest, abundance of water and food. Rats will eat and contaminate poultry feed, cause multiple physical damage to building structures, equipment, and electrical wiring.
There are several things you can do to control a rodent population:
1. Prevention and sanitation: prevent rats from accessing the barns and poultry houses by sealing the cracks and holes shut. Employ good housekeeping practices: clean the barns and coops frequently and carefully, mow the grass and keep the trash away in the sealed metal containers, get rid of the garbage, sawdust, and clutter to prevent opportunities for nesting.
2. Rodenticides. Contrary to popular belief, rat poison is allowed for use in poultry farms and recommended as an effective method of controlling rodents by Mississippi State University biologists. However, please, exercise extreme caution to prevent accidental and secondary livestock poisoning.
Tips for using poison on the poultry farm:
- Use ready-made products
- Follow the instructions carefully
- Prebaiting period is necessary for the rats to get used to its safety
- Number of bait stations must directly correlate to the degree of rat infestation on your farm: the larger the rat population, the more baits you need
- Ensure you put the baits wherever you’ve seen the rodent activity: if you fail to place the baits everywhere the rats travel, they’ll just migrate to a safer place without the poison
- Remove all other sources of food: check for poultry feed spills regularly and remove them as soon as you notice
- Change poison baits frequently: use different baits with different active ingredients and flavours, rotate them over time
- Use gloves to prevent your smell on the bait and for extra protection against the poison
- Use different bait stations for mice and rats: rats are bigger than mice, thus require bigger stations
- Ask your poultry supply store for any recommendations
Yes, poisons kill rodents. But you don’t know what place to die they will choose. Dying rodents are looking for a place to die, and you are lucky if they go away. But perhaps it will happen in your home or backyard, then you will find a nasty surprise – dead rat smell . (If it bothers you, read “How to get rid of dead rat smell” ).
F.A.Q about Poison Bait
Can I use the rat poison bait inside a house? How to do this best?
Yes, Havoc Rat & Mice bait can be used indoors. You may either scatter the granules around, or just open the packet and place it where the rats are likely to run.
There are mice in my attic. Shall I leave the bait in there? It is rather difficult for me to get into the attic, so I am afraid that the smell of dead mice will trouble my family afterwards.
The chief advantage of this bait action is that after being eaten by mice or rats it causes great dehydration in their bodies and they are eager to find the source of water or die. As a rule, they manage to leave the house – but if not, you won’t notice any strong smell. So you can leave the bait in the attic.
How long is the shelf life of the product?
You need not be worried about this: Havoc bait may be kept as long as 4 or 5 years and this period will not impact its efficiency as the packets are sealed safely.
Does Havoc Bait work on rats and mice with the same effect?
Yes, in practice the bait attracts and kills both mice and rats.
What Is The Best Rat and Mouse Bait for Traps?
There are a lot of options to choose from, and you should also know how to lure the pests in effectively. For the rat trap, you should choose the best bait that will work effectively on rodents in your region. This is a necessary step, because if the bait does not attract rats, they will never go for it and you’ll be left with an empty rat trap and persistent problem.
Have you heard about the great rat eradication? It’s an example of large campaign which directed to getting rid of rats in huge numbers. We hope that there are people amongst you who just have a small rat infestation – you can use organic baits for rat traps in order to eliminate some rats.