Any type of rodent is unwelcome in a home or business. Between the damage they can do and the diseases they carry, no rodents are safe to have inside the house. Rats and mice spread diseases through feces, bites, and contact with their fur and bodies.

Functionally, there are very few differences between mice and rats in terms of damage and disease. But there are some differences, and many people are curious about which one is more dangerous.

Diseases Spread By Rodents

The reality is that almost all the rodent-borne diseases present in the U.S. can be spread directly by both mice and rats, with only a few exceptions. Many are limited to certain species of each group while others affect all rodents. These diseases are:

  • Salmonella – Rat and mice droppings can contain the bacteria that causes salmonella when it contaminates food.
  • Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome – Contact or inhalation of rodent droppings can spread this virus. Mice are a more common spreader, but a few rat species (none in NY or NJ) can carry the virus.
  • Rat-Bite Fever – Despite its name, both mice and rats can spread rat-bite fever through a scratch, bite, or droppings in food.
  • Leptospirosis – This is spread by a variety of rodents through urine, either via consuming contaminated food and water or skin contact.
  • Plague – Primarily spread by rats and not mice, the plague comes from handling an infected rat.
  • Meningitis – Spread by the house mouse, people contract meningitis from breathing in dust with droppings or urine, or coming into contact with an infected animal or its feces.

There are also a number of viruses and bacteria carried by rodents that are spread through an intermediary vector, such as a tick, mosquito, or other insect. These include Lyme disease from ticks that have bitten infected animals, several forms of typhus from fleas and mites, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which is carried by both mice and rats.

Many insects become infected by biting rodents in nature. However, mice and rats can serve as hosts for ticks, fleas, and other parasites that are brought into your home via a rodent.

Which Is Worse?

While both rats and mice will put you at risk of a variety of diseases, rats are considered the more dangerous pest to have in your home or business. This is because rats tend to be larger, meaning more powerful bites and scratches. Many mice are unable to pierce the skin when they bite, making them less likely to transmit a disease.

Rats are also more aggressive and smarter. Mice will nearly always move away when you come near, but rats will defend themselves in some cases, especially when babies are present.

Because both carry disease and present other problems when they infest a building or the surrounding yard, mice and rats should be removed as quickly as possible. Professional rodent removal is the safest and most effective option, preventing the chance of disease spread during the process. Contact us 24 hours a day if you need help with mice or rats in NY or NJ.