Overview

If a rodent is spotted in the daylight crossing a road or highway, it is unlikely to be a rat and probably is a muskrat.

Norway and roof rats can be identified by a number of distinguishing characteristics and clues. However, most ‘rats’ reported in Alberta are in fact other rodents such as muskrats. Before reporting a rat, view the list below, then find out how to identify rats and their signs.

Rodents mistaken for rats

  • Photo of a Muskrat
    Muskrat

    Muskrats are commonly seen travelling overland and sometimes far distances from water, especially in the fall and spring. Many ‘rats’ reported in Alberta are actually muskrats.

    • Colour: brown/black
    • Size: body is approximately 45 to 70 cm (18 to 27 in) long
    • Other features: large toenails on hind feet and long, scaled, blackish, flattened tail
  • Photo of a Deer (or white-footed) mouse
    Deer (or white-footed) mouse
    • Regulated nuisance in Alberta
    • Colour: variations of brown
    • Size: body is 8 to 10 cm (3 to 4 in) long
    • Other features: large, beady eyes and large ears
    • See also: Mice and Their Control
  • Photo of a House mouse
    House mouse
    • Regulated nuisance in Alberta
    • Colour: grayish-brown, with gray or buff belly
    • Size: body is 6.5 to 9 cm (2.5 to 3.5 in) long
    • Other features: slightly pointed nose, small feet, small, black protruding eyes, large ears
    • See also: Mice and Their Control
  • Photo of a Northern pocket gopher
    Northern pocket gopher
    • Regulated nuisance in Alberta
    • Colour: grey/brown
    • Size: body is 15 to 25 cm (6 to 8 in) long
    • Other features: distinctive cheek pouches, long incisor teeth, long feet, large claws, short tail
    • See also: Control of Pocket Gophers and Ground Squirrels
  • Photo of a Meadow vole (field mouse)
    Meadow vole (field mouse)
    • Regulated nuisance in Alberta
    • Colour: dark brown to reddish brown
    • Size: body approximately 9 to 14 cm (3.5 to 5.5 in) long
    • Other features: stocky with short legs and tail; ears partially hidden
    • See also: Mice and Their Control
  • Photo of a Richardson ground squirrel (gopher)
    Richardson ground squirrel (gopher)
  • Photo of a Squirrel
    Squirrel
    • Colour: reddish, rusty brown
    • Size: body is approximately 20 cm long

     

  • Photo of a Ord’s kangaroo rat
    Ord’s kangaroo rat
    • Endangered species in Alberta
    • Colour: Brownish orange with greyish black on the midline
    • Size: Body approximately 10 to 12 cm (4 to 5 in); tail can be 13 to 16 cm (5 to 6 in) long

    Image credit: Ord's Kangaroo rat, Alberta by Andy Teucher is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

  • Photo of a Bushy tailed wood rat (pack rat)
    Bushy tailed wood rat (pack rat)
    • Regulated nuisance in Alberta
    • Colour: silver grey to dark grey to brown
    • Size: body is 20 to 25 cm (8 to 10 in), tail length is 10 to 21 cm (4 to 8 in)
    • Other features: bushy tail

Size comparison

Top to bottom: mouse, vole, juvenile roof rat, pocket gopher, Norway rat

Photo of small mammals are often mistaken for rats in Alberta

Report a rat

If you think you saw a rat, see how to identify and report a rat.

Was this page helpful?

All fields are required unless otherwise indicated.

You will not receive a reply. Do not enter any personal information such as telephone numbers, addresses, or emails.

Your submissions are monitored by our web team and are used to help improve the experience on Alberta.ca. If you require a response, please go to our Contact page.