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The Difference Between Mice & Rats In New Mexico

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Mice vs. Rats

New Mexico's diverse landscapes, from arid deserts to urban centers, provide an ideal environment for rodents like mice and rats to thrive. Identifying these pests correctly is crucial for effective pest control. In this article, we will explore how to distinguish between mice and rats in New Mexico, taking into consideration the unique characteristics and behaviors of these rodents.

a house mouse and norway rat

Size and appearance

In Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and throughout New Mexico, you may encounter both the house mouse (Mus musculus) and the Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus). One of the most apparent differences between these two rodents is their size and appearance. Mice are typically smaller, measuring about 5-8 inches in length, with large ears, pointed noises, and a slender body. Norway rats, on the other hand, are larger, approximately 16 inches in length, with shorter ears, blunt noses, and a stockier build.

Tail length

Pay attention to the length of the tail. Mice have long, thin tails that are roughly equal to the length of their bodies. Rats have shorter, thicker tails that are typically shorter than their bodies.


Mice and rats also differ in coloration. Mice typically have light brown to grayish fur, while rats tend to have brown or gray fur with a slightly darker shade than that of mice. The specific coloration can vary among individuals, but these general guidelines hold true in New Mexico’s rodent population.


Mouse and rat droppings differ in size and shape. Mouse droppings are small and resemble black grains of rice, measuring about 1/8 inch in length. Rat droppings are larger and more oblong, with a size of about 1/2 inch or more.


Mice and rats also exhibit different behaviors. Mice are generally more curious and tend to explore their surroundings, often leaving more noticeable signs of their presence. Rats, on the other hand, are cautious and prefer to stay hidden, making them more challenging to spot.

Nests and entry points

Both mice and rats build nests, but they have different nesting habits. Mice often create nests in wall voids, attics, and crawl spaces using materials like paper, insulation, and fabric. Rats, particularly Norway rats, prefer burrowing outdoors, but may also nest in wall voids.

How to tell if you have a mouse or rat problem in your home

If you’re worried that you might be sharing your home with mice or rats but aren’t quite sure, there are specific signs to look out for. Visit our blog, Common Signs Of A Rodent Infestation, for help determining if you have a rodent problem.

Don’t ignore a rodent infestation

While these mice and rats may not seem like a big deal, ignoring a rodent infestation in your home can have serious consequences. Here are few reasons why New Mexico homeowners should never underestimate the importance of addressing rodent problems promptly:

  • Rodent borne diseases
    Rodents can be carriers of diseases that can be transmitted to humans, including hantavirus, salmonellosis, and leptospirosis. While symptoms and severity of illness varies, ignoring a rodent infestation can expose you and your family to health hazards.
  • Food contamination
    Mice and rats are skilled at pilfering from kitchens and pantries, where they contaminate food items with their droppings, urine, and fur. Ignoring a rodent infestation can compromise the safety of your food supply.
  • Property damage
    Both mice and rats have a penchant for gnawing on various materials, including wires, insulation, and wood. In our region, where homes may have unique construction materials, such as adobe, rodent damage can be especially problematic. Ignoring a rodent infestation can lead to costly repairs.
  • Fire hazards
    When rodents chew on electrical wires to wear down their continuously growing teeth, they can cause electrical shorts and even fires in your home. Ignoring a rodent infestation can create fire hazards.

Contact Greenway for professional rodent control

For help getting rid of mice or rats in your home, reach out to Greenway Pest Solutions! Our local pest control team offers comprehensive home pest control in Albuquerque, Sunland Park, and Las Cruces, as well as in communities throughout our multi-county service area that not only eliminate existing rodent infestations, but also prevent mice and rats from re-infesting!

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Don't wait until it's too late. Call Greenway Today!

Pest Control Specialist Serving Albuquerque