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  • GRR Editorial Team

The Surprising Intelligence of Rats and Mice

When thinking about rats and mice, most people portray them as disease carriers and lab rodents. But what about their intelligence? Are rats smart? Do mice have superior intelligence compared to rats?


Surprisingly, rats and mice are extremely intelligent rodents, both intellectually and emotionally. Whether they’re domesticated, in the wild, or in labs, both show signs of empathy and tremendous problem-solving skills.


With that in mind, let’s check out how intelligent rats and mice really are and how they compare when put up against each other. We’ll also examine how rats' and mice's intelligence makes them hard to get rid of.



black and white photo mice with smart eyes

Are Rats Smart?


Yes, rats are pretty smart. Their intellectual skills lie primarily in their curiosity and memory, which allow them to learn new tricks and escape predators. Rats are notoriously known for making nests and burrows to navigate from their nest to the food source. They’ll then remember and follow the same path every time, adapting to any changes made to it.


Intelligent rats are also great observers who always learn from their mistakes. If you catch one with a particular type of trap, it’ll rarely be caught off guard again. Also, once they notice other rodents getting poisoned by trap bait, they’ll know to avoid that scent in the future.


On top of this, though, rats are very emotionally intelligent. That’s why you’ll usually find them moving (or nesting) in packs. Their emotional intelligence is also why many have rats as pets, known as fancy rats.


Is the same true for mice? Are mice smart?


Are Mice Smart?


Yes, mice are smart. Like rats, mice’s intelligence is pretty high due to their memory and decision-making skills. In fact, the human brain is very similar to the brains of mice regarding its shape and relative size. This is one of the main reasons why mice are used as test subjects.


Similarly to rats, mice use their smell and hearing to decipher everything going on in their environment. They make your attic their new home, especially if you don’t have adequate attic insulation.


From there, they’ll follow the same path to a food source (usually your kitchen), where they’ll scavenge for scraps while elegantly escaping out of sight when you appear. This is the main difference between rats' and mice's intelligence. The former will most likely try to flee, while rats will directly attack you, despite being often considered the smarter of the two rodents.


Speaking of which, are rats smarter than mice, or is that a debunked myth?


Are Rats Smarter Than Mice?


Contrary to popular belief, rats and mice are equally intelligent. The idea that rats were smarter than mice mainly stemmed from labs where mice were underperforming in rat-designed puzzles. This does raise a few questions, though.


How smart are rats and mice? Are they smart enough to escape the traps you’ve set around the house?


How Smart Are Rats?


Due to their quick thinking, getting rid of rats can often be a hassle. Rats are excellent observers, so when you place a trap on their usual path to a food source, they’ll immediately notice it. Rats fear new things, so they’ll not dare to approach the trap.


Their memory skills also serve them well. If a rat has been captured by a snap trap before, it’ll avoid it at all costs, even if you place tasty bait on it. On the other hand, if they ever notice a rat being victim to any rodent control methods, they’ll know better than to fall for that. Plus, if you place a trap using your bare hands, rats will immediately catch your scent and avoid it.


How Smart Are Mice?


Mice are more cunning than rats. While mice’s intelligence is up to par with rats, they are usually harder to catch due to their size. For example, if you find that all the bait on your rat traps has been eaten, you’re probably dealing with mice instead of rats.


Despite being really smart, mice are also afraid of new things and will quickly run away if they sense danger. Plus, they can often be repelled by scents from overused traps or bad bait.


Thankfully, despite rats and mice being pretty smart, they can often be desensitized to certain smells and objects. If you place an unset trap on their path for a long time, they’ll get used to it, at which point you can set the trap and catch them.


Let the Pros Get Rid of the Intelligent Rats


There’s no denying that rats and mice are incredibly intelligent rodents. If you’ve dealt with rodents for a long time, you’ll already know how to get rid of them on a whim. However, there are times when even the most experienced of you require the help of a rodent control expert.


At Green Rodent Restoration, we offer our years of experience, knowledge, and the best tools for rodent removal and repairs. We ensure that you’ll not have to deal with rodents ever again!


Call us for a free quote if you’re ever having difficulty managing a rat infestation. We’ll plan out everything needed to remove pests and make sure that they don’t come back.


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