Mice and rats are small mammals that resemble each other in several ways. For example, they have a similar coat and tail. However, there are several differences between these two animal species. For example, one is on average a lot bigger than the other. In addition, they can be distinguished from each other by studying their ears more closely. What are the other differences between mice and rats?
The scientific name for the house mouse is ‘Mus Musculus’. It belongs to the family ‘Muridae’ or Mouse-like creatures.
Mice are small mammals that can grow up to 10 centimeters in length. The smallest mouse in the world is the African dwarf mouse. It has a length of about 5 centimeters.
Rats belong to the genus ‘Rattus’ and are part of the family ‘Muridae’.
Rats are large rodents. The largest species is the giant bark rat. It can reach a length of about 50 centimeters. They have a large head and large legs in proportion to the rest of their bodies.
The common ancestor of the mouse and rat lived about 30 to 40 million years ago. Both animal species belong to rodents. These rodents can be recognized by their large front teeth. In addition, these mammals both have distinctive whiskers, a long tail, and a protruding nose. They use their noses to explore their surroundings, look for food and detect predators in time. This significantly increases their chances of survival.
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The brains of these two rodents are highly developed. For this reason, animals are often used in the laboratory for scientific research related to the brain. For example, thanks to their intelligence, these rodents can solve all kinds of puzzles that are used during scientific research.
Differences Between Mice and Rats
The genome of the mice and rat
The genome (DNA sequence) of the mouse was the first to be mapped. After the rat genome was increasingly visualized, it was discovered that these two animals are genetically very different from each other. This is because the common ancestor of these rodents lived as far back as thirty to forty million years ago. Thanks to evolution, genetic similarities have diminished.
Behavior & intelligence
Rats behave more calmly than mice. In addition, they are both more affectionate and more intelligent. Mice are more curious than rats and are more likely to fall into a trap because of this. In addition, they are pickier about what they eat. Mice eat only plant-based food, while rats sometimes eat meat.
Rats are known for spreading numerous diseases, while mice are less known for this. The diseases are spread through their urine and droppings, among other things. The droppings of rats are larger than that of mice, which means that diseases can spread more quickly.
The plague is one of the most serious diseases that can be spread by rats. This disease has caused millions of victims and was spread by the black rat, among others. Nowadays, this disease is almost non-existent in many countries. Worldwide, there are still several thousand cases known every year. The disease can be treated with antibiotics. Some researchers suspect that this disease is rare because the brown rat has driven out the black rat.
Mice are particularly known for spreading salmonella disease. This disease can cause food poisoning and is many times less deadly than the plague.
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Head & legs
Both the head and legs of a rat are larger compared to the body parts of a mouse. This makes the head and legs of a rat extra noticeable.
Tail & ears
Relatively speaking, mice have a longer tail and larger ears than rats. Their long tail helps keep them in balance. Also, the ears of a mouse are more forward than the ears of a rat.
Research on Mice And Rats
Mice are used more often for scientific research than rats; no less than twice as much use is made of laboratory mice than laboratory rats. This is because mice are the easiest to genetically manipulate because their genome is most similar to that of humans.
This genome is, therefore, more known to researchers. In addition, only a small amount of medication needs to be administered to determine the side effects of the drug in question. This is because mice are smaller than rats. Medicines are very expensive during the development phase.