Can rats and mice live together? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again as many times as I have to: rodents are great pets. Two of the rodents that are most commonly kept as pets are rats and mice. When you decide to keep a rodent as a pet, it’s quite common that you’ll make a choice to keep either one or the other. But what if you didn’t have to make a choice. Would it be possible to keep both rats and mice together?
In this guide, I’m going to discuss everything you need to know about whether or not rats and mice can live together in the same cage.
If you were about to put your rat and mice in the same cage, I have to warn you. Rats and mice cannot live in the same cage together, and it’s also not recommended to have both of them in separate cages nearby one another. If you want to keep these rodents as a pet, it’s best to choose one or the other, but not both. Mice can smell rats and since rats often kill them this odor terrifies them. In nature, rats often kill mice and there’s a very high chance that this will happen if you house them in the same cage.
To learn everything you need to know, keep reading.
Can rats and mice live together in the same cage?
Rats and mice should never share a cage. These rodents might look similar, but they’re very different. Rats are very territorial and much bigger than mice. Because of this, they often kill mice (and even eat them). This is a frequent occurrence in nature, and the same will happen if you house them in the same cage together.
Mice are even more afraid of rats than they are of other, much bigger animals, such as dogs or cats. The reason for this is that rats are a bigger threat to them. Rats are hardwired to hunt and kill mice because they compete for the same sources of food. Killing mice is beneficial for rats because it leaves more food for them, which is why they do it. Mice do not stand any chance against rats because they’re much smaller and weaker. As a result, they have learned to recognize the smell of rats and learn to stay away.
It’s much better to house rats with rats and mice with mice. They’re both very social animals, but unfortunately not towards each other. Because of how their relationship is in nature, they cannot coexist peacefully in captivity.
The exception: African Soft Fur Rats
The one exception to the rule that you shouldn’t house rats and mice together is the African Soft Fur rat. Despite this animal’s name, they’re much more closely related to mice than to rats and there are reports of them living communally with pet mice.
Of course, you do have to be careful and monitor them closely when introducing them. Some people have had great success housing African Soft Fur rats with mice, while others did not.
If you attempt this communal housing setup, make sure that you never house more than 1 male mouse in the same cage as this will lead to fights.
It’s best to house 1 Fancy mouse with 2 or more African Soft Fur rats. They will not be able to breed, so you won’t end up with hundreds of baby mice, but the male will still try and will often tolerate the ASFR females in his territory. They even seem to enjoy each other’s company a lot of the time!
Can you have mice and rats at the same time?
While you shouldn’t put mice and rats in the same cage it is possible to have them at the same time, though not recommended.
As I’ve said, mice recognize the smell of rats and this smell terrifies them. If you do keep both of these rodents in your house, make sure that they’re a proper distance away so that your mice aren’t constantly living in terror of being attacked by one of your rats. They should never meet, and you should never let both of them out of their cage at the same time.
On the whole, I would definitely suggest that you pick either rats or mice to keep as your next pet, rather than having both in the same house. Both make great pets and are very similar in behavior so there’s not much reason to get both considering the problems it brings.
Do rats and mice like each other?
When you look at rats and mice you can clearly see that they’re closely related. They bear many similarities and a common assumption is that they like each other. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
Rats and mice definitely do not like each other and they cannot be friends. As I’ve already said, rats often kill mice in nature.
Due to the difference in size between these animals, mice stand absolutely no chance against the much bigger rats. Their only chance is to stay out of the rat’s way.
Can rats and mice breed?
These rodents might be closely related, and some animals that are closely related, such as donkeys and horses, can breed, but mice and rats definitely cannot.
Even if you manage to find a rat and a mouse where they don’t kill each other and get along, there’s no chance for them to breed. They have very different pheromones and smells and because of that are not attracted to each other and will not mate. Also, rats have 42 chromosomes while mice have only 40, which prevents reproduction even if they did manage to mate.
What rodents can live together?
So, we’ve established that rats and mice cannot live together. But what about other rodents?
I do not recommend keeping any rodents together. It will usually not end well and is not worth the risk and hassle. It’s much better for them to have friends of their own species. They will get along with them much better and it’s much less risky.
In nature, rodents do not cohabitate with other rodent species and your job as a pet owner is to keep their captive life as close as possible to their natural life (albeit with more comfort).
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