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Are Rats Smarter Than Mice?Posted March 24, 2022

One piece of wisdom that has endured throughout the ages is “know your enemy.” This holds true for combating pests as well. Today let’s take a look at one of the most commonly encountered rodents… Rattus norvegicus, the common rat.

What Rodent Is the Smartest?

Among common household pests, rats and mice are the most frequently encountered of the rodent family. Both are intelligent enough to pose a challenge, but our question today is “Are rats or mice smarter?”

MyAnimals lists rats as one of the six smartest rodents known, and mice appear nowhere on that list. Other than squirrels, the rest of the rodents listed – like the Mongolian gerbil – are not frequently encountered by homeowners.

Are Rats as Intelligent as People?

While considered to be in the ten most intelligent known species, the idea they might be as smart as humans seems laughable at first. However, while the answer is generally considered to be no… recent studies are casting doubt on that.

The Harvard Business Review has a fascinating interview with Dr. Ben Vermaercke, who, along with his colleagues at KU Leuven, has been doing cognitive studies of rats and humans. The short form is that rats seem to be better at information integration than people are. So, while the answer is “no,” there is a possibility the answer may change as more data is gathered.

How Smart Are Rats Compared to Other Animals?

Believe it or not, the common rat is often considered one of the smartest species on the planet. Experts on the subject consistently rank them alongside chimpanzees, bottlenose dolphins, elephants, dogs, pigs, pigeons, and octopuses as the smartest known nonhuman species. Pet rats are well known for their capacity to learn tricks and solve puzzles. As a matter of fact, there are even similarities between the rat brain and the human brain, as Burgess Pet Care noted.  

A Ph.D. study conducted by Dr. Ben Vermaercke and his colleagues at KU Leuven University in Belgium states:

Even though the rat brain is smaller and less complex than the human brain, research has shown that the two are remarkably similar in structure and function. Both consist of a vast amount of highly connected neurons that are constantly talking to each other.

Are Mice Smart Enough to Avoid Traps?

Yes and no. While mice are sometimes smart enough to avoid traps it is not because they recognize them as traps. It is often something more subtle… like the lingering smell of human hands on the bait or the smell of their dead fellows on a reused trap. Obviously, being vastly more intelligent, rats can get wise to traps.

Call Fox for All of Your Pest Control Needs

Don’t let rats or mice get comfortable in your home where they can chew wires and cause serious damage. If you suspect that you may have a rodent problem, contact Fox Pest Control today, your pest control and rodent elimination solution across Long Island!

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