Well, this is probably the worst article I’ve had to write because honestly, mice and rats as pets are BOTH TOTALLY AWESOME. It’s almost impossible for me. I feel heart palpitations coming on. And here comes panic mode… Okay, deep breath. Let's talk about mice vs. rats as pets.
Even though mice and rats are both super cool (and who says you can’t own both?! In separate cages, of course), there really are some pretty significant differences when it comes to these two species of rodents (ridiculously cute rodents, that is).
Mice vs. Rats as Pets
Mice are the best little guys. They’re super easy pets to have. Like all animals, they need attention and love, but they’re pretty happy to do their own thing most of the day. (Netflix and chill, anyone?) Even though they don’t really need a ton of human interaction, they’re still very social creatures, and it’s best to have one (or more) mates. However, remember - single sex in the same quarters only, please! Mice breed at a crazy rate. So, you’ve been warned. Make sure when adopting, you make doubly sure that you’re adopting of the same sex.
If you decide to house a group of male mice, be on the lookout for aggressive behavior, as they can be known to, well, kind of sometimes not like each other. Females should be okay. (GIRL POWER!)
If you’re looking for a close “I really love you” kind of relationship, a mouse may not be the best option if you’re on the fence between a mouse and a rat. Of course, mice can be handled, and should be. But they’re probably not going to be as affectionate or responsive as your rattie rat would likely be. But, if you prefer your entertainment by watching rather than by playing, mice are an excellent choice.
Do you have young children? Mice are obviously more fragile than rats, simply because of their size. So, be aware before choosing to adopt, that you’ll need to be a little extra careful when handling.
Rats are equally as awesome, but require MUCH more attention than pet mice. Rats need and crave human interaction, so be prepared to spend a lot more time with your pet. (Like that’s a bad thing!?) They also need time to run around outside of their cage. But if you’re already a rat parent, you probably want them out anyway… for the extra kisses.
These little rodents can learn tricks! Who woulda thunk. A rat trick. How cool is that? Lots of people actually describe them as little dogs… they’re super intelligent and can be litter trained. Wowza. You can try to litter train with a mouse, but you’ll probably not be successful.
Rats also live about a year longer than mice (2-3 years on average versus 1-2 years on average for mice). So, if you’re looking for that extra time, a rat is probably the way to go. Rats get along very well with siblings they grew up with, but, like male mice, they may not be handing over BFF necklaces right away if you decide to introduce them to another male.
They’re definitely not as fragile as mice because, obviously, they’re bigger. If you’re on the fence and have young kids… rat?
So... verdict on mice vs. rats as pets: when it comes down to it, whichever you decide to adopt? ...It’s a win-win situation. Mice and rats are awesome for different reasons and will provide you joy in different ways. You know your lifestyle and what you’re looking for in a pet better than I do, so I can’t say: “go with mice” or “go with rats.” But I can tell you that they’re both fantastic options as small pets. Rodents rule!