Pet Mice or Rats – Which are Better Pets for You?

Thinking of getting a new rodent pet for your home, but still unsure of which type you would prefer? Let us try and find out together, between pet mice or rats- which are better pets for you.

Before we start, let us make something clear: mice and rats and both amazing pets, and nobody say you cannot own both (in separate tiny habitats, obviously).

However, if you are still deciding between the two, there are a lot of similarities, as well as a few differences. Hoping this will help you with your final decision, we will try to briefly cover them all.

Mice vs Rats as Pets – Which to Choose?

Both mice and rats can get attached to their owners, as well as to their siblings or rodent friends. However, rats are known to be extremely intelligent creatures compared to their size.

This will probably make them also more willing to play with their owners while, on the other side, mice can be pure fun to simply observe (tiny professional gymnasts, one could say).

Still undecided? You probably are, as we would be, too. So, let us proceed with some more “practical” differences between those two.

– Size

Not that we want to state the obvious, but rats are larger than mice, by a lot. Most common house mice will only weigh to thirty grams and will get to a size not larger than 8 inches (20 cm) (including the tail!).

This makes them super tiny and fragile pets. On the other side, rats are mostly the double size of mice. With their size difference being considerable, it is logical to conclude that rats will need more space in their cages. Additionally, rats are less fragile, so could be a better choice for families with small kids.

– Space

As just mentioned, rats are much larger than mice, so they obviously need more living space. A general suggestion is to provide them at least two cubic feet per rat. Also, keep in mind that rats will often need to be let out to get a proper walk and some exercise.

Mice, on the other side, will be happy with just one cubic foot of space. Make sure to provide their living space with enough toys, wheels and rawhide chews, and your mice pets will be thankful.

– Training

Rats are extremely intelligent creatures, so training is much easier with them. Also, they can become really attached to their owners, so make sure to have plenty of time to spend with these little guys and they will keep you happy (that is a promise).

Not only can they be trained to use litter boxes, but they can actually learn how to make some amazing tricks! Rats will respond to their names if you work enough with them, and maybe you even get to teach them to fetch a ball. How fun is that?

And another activity is simply watching your mice doing their own thing. These super cute acrobats will keep the entire family entertained for hours. Mice can be trained to do simple tricks and respond to their name, too. All it takes is much patience, persistence and time.

– Smell

Both mice and rats are extremely clean pets when their home is clean. They don’t have a distinctive odor at all, so you won’t have any issues on that side.

Very similar to cats. Simply make sure that you clean their cages often enough to avoid urine staying long on litter surfaces, as this is the only issue you could have with the smell. However, if you keep their homes clean, you will have very tidy and odorless little pets.

If you decide to get both, please keep in mind that mice can smell rat odor very easily and will probably change behavior then, as they will sense danger and a naturally larger animal that could kill or eat them.

– Food

Mice and rats are both omnivorous, so they need a healthy and balanced diet to live long and happily. This includes a combination of grains, greens and meat.

Mice mostly feed on grain, some sorts of fruits and vegetables, small amounts of eggs and, occasionally, on some worm meals added to their diet.

Rats tend to feed similarly, but obviously in larger amounts, being at least the double size of mice. Worm meals for mice can be replaced with actual pieces of meat for rats, who need more protein. It is extremely important to offer them both a healthy and balanced diet.

There are several complete feeding options both for mice and rats which can be found at almost any pet store. If you intend to feed your rodent pet with such options, please make sure to buy the appropriate types for your pet.

Buying mice food and feeding it to rats can bring to an unbalanced diet, as their needs are different. To conclude, it is vitally important for your pet to always have fresh drinking water at their disposal.

– Lifespan

Unfortunately, both of these cute creatures have a somewhat short lifespan. Mice mostly live from 1 to 2 years. Rats tend to live about a year longer than mice, about 2-3 years. They are quite fragile little fellows and can often die in just a few hours if they are without water or under stress.

So, please make sure to provide them a healthy and safe environment, and you will have your new best friend with you for a couple of years, if not for more.

The Verdict

Whether you decide to get a mouse, a rat, or both, prepare yourself for a cuteness overload.

Such tiny and intelligent creatures will make good companions, but also an amusement source for the entire family. They are both simple to maintain, will not bring to high budget expenses, and don’t require too much of your time.

Even if descending from the same rodent family, mice and rats can often be pretty different between themselves, so it is now up to you to decide which one suits best for you and your home. We are sure that, whichever choice you make, you are not going to regret it.

avatar Jane
Jane is an experienced animal care specialist with a focus on rodents and small mammals, with over 10 years of experience in the pet industry. Her articles provide practical guidance on choosing the right pet and managing common health issues. Jane is an advocate for animal welfare and supports organizations dedicated to protecting wildlife. read more...

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