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How Long Do Rats & Mice Live For?

Home > Blog >  How Long Do Rats & Mice Live For?

Whether you think they’re cute or creepy, there’s a high chance that you’ll experience a home invasion from rats or mice at some point in your life. In Texas, rats and mice are really common household pests.

Because they’re such common pests, we get a lot of questions about rats and mice at Natran HQ. This is mainly because some homeowners think that their rat/mice infestation will simply die off eventually, so they don’t need to get them removed.

Spoiler alert: that’s not the case! Rats and mice (and any other rodents) need to be removed from your home as quickly as possible.

Rats and mice multiply very quickly and you might be surprised by their life expectancy. In today’s blog, we’ll be detailing the life expectancies of common rat and mouse species, as well as their life cycles. 

How long do rats live for?

Each rat species has a different life span. We’ll cover these below but, if you have a rat problem at your property in Houston or Austin, Texas, you’ll likely be encountering Norway rats and/or roof rats.

Rats are pretty robust creatures. They can live for more than a week without food and they don’t need much water in order to survive. A rat can get much of the water it needs from the food it eats and they don’t need a proper water source for prolonged periods because they can get water from something as simple as condensation. 

It’s worth noting that a rat’s life expectancy will depend on its environment. For example, rats that spend a lot of time in sewers will likely have a shorter lifespan than rats that live in cleaner areas. This is simply because their environment is filthy and will impact their health.

Of course, a rat’s life expectancy will also be stunted if they’re caught by a predator or killed in other ways, such as being run over or poisoned! And rats that are in captivity will usually have a significantly longer life expectancy, especially if they’re cared for well.

Norway Rats: 1 Year

Norway rats are large. They can grow longer than 40 cm and their tails can be longer than 20 cm. They usually have scruffy fur that can vary from being brown to gray in color. 

Norway rats are also known as brown rats, sewer rats, Hanover rats, common rats, and street rats. This type of rat thrives in people’s homes, especially in attics and basements.

They’ll live to around 1 year old in the wild.

Norway rats reach maturity at between 2 and 5 months into their lives, which is when they can carry/produce offspring. They can breed at any time of the year and can produce anywhere from 3 to 12 litters annually. Each Norway rat litter can contain between 4 and 22 babies. 

Roof Rats: 1 Year

Roof rats are black/brown and can grow more than 40 cm long. Roof rats are smaller than Norwegian rats, but they have big ears and eyes. They have a pointed snout, a scaly tail and their fur is generally very smooth.

They usually live for around one year.

As for a roof rat’s life cycle, they reach maturity between 2 and 5 months old, just like Norway rats. This means they can start reproducing. They can breed all year round and produce litters of 6-8 babies each time. A female roof rat can produce around 40 young each year.

When populations of roof rats are high, they have been known to establish a social hierarchy. In this type of structure, the dominant males will mate more than the subordinate males.

Domestic Rats: Up to 5 Years

Rats are fairly popular pets in the US - around 500,000 Americans have pet rats. If they’re looked after well by rat owners that feed them a good diet, a pet rat lifespan can be much longer - even up to 5 years. However, that’s for healthy and well-cared-for rats.

Many rats that are bred for the pet industry are bred from lab rats and this can give them health implications like tumors. This can give them a short life expectancy in comparison to healthy domestic rats. 

How long do mice live? 

Just like rats, a mouse’s life expectancy will differ depending on its environment. But you can expect the average wild mouse to live for around 5 or 6 months.

Scarily, mice can be really robust creatures. They can live for a whole week without food and even longer without water. If a mouse’s life expectancy is cut short, that would usually be because it’s been caught by a predator, or killed in another unnatural way such as being caught in a trap or being killed on a road.

A well-looked-after pet mouse will likely live much longer than a wild mouse. In fact, in the right conditions, a domestic mouse can live for around 2 years, which is more than double the lifespan expected in the wild!

House Mice: Less Than 1 Year

The most common type of mouse to have nested in your Houston home is the house mouse. House mice can grow to roughly 3-4 inches in length, with a 3-4 inch tail. They have big ears and can be brown, black, or gray. 

The life expectancy of a house mouse is less than 1 year in the wild.

House mice reproduce quickly. A female house mouse can have up to 8 litters each year, and each litter has an average of 6 young. 

Deer Mice: Less Than 1 Year

Whether they make your skin crawl or you secretly think they look a little sweet, if you live in Houston, you’ve probably encountered a deer mouse before. A fully grown deer mouse will be around 3-4 inches long, with a 3-5 inch long tail. One of their most notable features is their big ears - their ears are furry, too.

Deer mice usually have gray/brown fur, similar to that of a deer, which is how they got their moniker. 

A deer mouse can produce up to 9 young per litter, with 3-5 babies being the most common number. Female deer mice can have 3-4 litters every year.

Domestic mice

It’s not all that unusual for people in the US to keep mice as pets. When a pet mouse is looked after properly, it can have a much longer lifespan than wild mice. In fact, they can live from 1 and a half to 2 years. 

Rat Lifespan

A rat’s lifespan is usually longer than that of a mouse. However, both creatures have lots of predators, which makes them vulnerable to being killed young.

The life expectancy of any wild rat will significantly depend on the conditions in which they live. If they live in filth or live in an area that can be easily accessed by predators - or even near a busy road - they’re more likely to die young.

Pet rats are much more likely to outlive wild rats, even by several years, but it does depend on the species.

The table below displays the lifespan of the 2 most common rats in Texas, Norway rats, and roof rats. It also outlines the number of litters they’re expected to produce every year and how many offspring are likely to be produced in each litter.

The below table outlines how rats age compared to humans - they reach reproductive maturity much quicker.

Age (Months)Age (Years)Age (Human Years)
1.50.12512.5
60.518
12130
181.545
24260
302.575
36390
423.5105
453.75113
484120

Mouse Lifespan

In short, a mouse’s lifespan is unlikely to reach more than 2 years, and that’s if they’re in captivity and being looked after well by an owner that feeds them a good diet, looks out for health problems, and has sourced them from reputable breeders.

A mouse has too many predators in the wild and has to withstand such harsh conditions that it’s really common for them to die young. Owls, hawks, alligators, and coyotes are just a handful of the predators that prey on mice.

Like all rodents, mice have quick reproductive cycles, which allows them to have thriving populations, even though their life spans are short.

The below table outlines the lifespan of the 2 most common mice in Texas, deer mice and house mice. It also shows how many litters they commonly produce per year, as well as how many young you can expect in each litter.

MouseLifespan (in the wild)Litters Per YearYoung in Litters
Deer mouseLess than 1 year3-49 or less (3-5 being most usual)
House mouseLess than 1 year86 (average)

The below table outlines how a mouse’s age compares to that of a human, showing how quickly they progress to maturity.

Mouse Age (Months)Human Age (Years)
112
630
1242.5
1856
2469
3081
3694

Signs of a Rodent Infestation

Do you think you might have a rodent infestation at your property? Look out for the signs. The most common signs of having a rodent infestation are:

  • Seeing droppings
  • Urine smells
  • Small footprints
  • Greasy rub marks on your walls/baseboards 
  • Nests/burrows
  • Rodent sightings

The key takeaway here is that rats and mice reproduce really quickly. So, even though they have short lifespans, you need to treat an infestation as a priority. These pests can do a lot of damage to your home and your family’s health in a short space of time.

Rats and mice are known to spread some nasty diseases. If you live in the US, diseases that could be spread by the rats and mice in and around your home are:

  • Leptospirosis
  • Salmonellosis
  • Rat-bite Fever (RBF)
  • Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome

The scariest part is that, while some diseases are spread by bites and contact, others are airborne. 

Rats and mice can also wreak havoc at your property, chewing wires and your structuring, and leaving excrement, which is unsanitary and can cause a dreadful smell.

Do you have a rat, mice, or other rodent infestation at your home? If you do - or you just think you do - you need to get it removed by a professional pest control service as soon as possible.

Natran is proud to offer fast, effective, and environmentally conscious rodent control for homes and businesses in Houston and Austin, Texas.

One of our pest control experts will come out to your Houston property and thoroughly inspect it, from cracks and crevices to your home’s foundations, roof, attic, and pipelines.

They’ll find every entry and exit point at your property and seal them. That means no more rodents can get in and any rodent in your home won’t be able to get out. This process is called exclusion and we use a variety of techniques and materials, including high-gauge steel wire mesh and expanding foam.

Once your building is properly excluded/sealed, in most cases we’ll catch the rodents humanely and release them as part of our Catch and Release program. We use bait box traps, glue boards, and snap traps.

When the rodents are completely removed from your home, we’ll come back to decontaminate your space. We use our botanical-based disinfectant fog that gets into every area, even the smallest of spaces. This fog completely eliminates bacteria that can be leftover from excrement and nesting.

It’s our mission to provide environmentally-conscious pest control that is kind to people, pets, and the planet as a whole. We stay away from harsh chemicals that are so commonly used in conventional pest control. Instead, we choose botanical-based treatments that are quick and effective, getting pests out of your home fast, without compromising your health.

We’re so sure that Houstonians and Austinites will love our services that we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

To book your free inspection for as soon as tomorrow, click here and fill out our contact form, or call us on 281-326-9915.

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