Are Squirrels Like Rats?

Rats and squirrels are both peaceful and intelligent rodents with excellent grabbing qualities but also have some differences which are essential to notice.  

Are Squirrels Like Rats? Squirrels are not like rats because of their different appearance, the difference in suborder, and the opposite activity time. They also differ in their life span, gestation period, the extent of damage, and methods of communication. But they are similar in some qualities like intelligence, peaceful nature, and sharp grabbing capabilities.

You can easily differentiate them based on several characteristics that make them unable to interbreed.

Why are squirrels not like rats? 

Squirrels and rats are rodents but differ in many distinct qualities that make you believe they are not like one another. 

Characteristics Squirrels Rats
Appearance Larger size, long bushy tail, shorter eyes Smaller size with a shorter tail and pointed eyes
Species Myomorpha Sciuromorpha
Activity time Diurnal, sharp daytime vision Nocturnal, excellent nighttime vision
Gestation period 28 to 45 days 20 to 25 days
Lifespan 4 to 22 years 1 to 5 years
Extent of damage Outdoor damage Indoor damage
Communicating sounds Inaudible sounds Audible to human ears


You can easily differentiate between squirrels and rats as they have distinctive appearances. Squirrels are larger rodents with long bushy tails covered with silky furs that vary in several colors. 

On the other hand, others are shorter in size and are hairless creatures with prominent ears and bigger eyes. 

Different suborders

They are not like each other because they do not belong to the same suborder. 

The difference in their species is the significant point that makes them unable to breed between their species.

Rats belong to the Mymorpha suborder, whereas squirrels are present in the Sciuromorpha suborder. 

They behave and perform different activities accordingly because they have different lifestyles and communication methods. 

Activity time 

It is a significant difference that helps you to identify them because they have opposite activity times. 

Rats are nocturnal creatures that come out at night to perform their activities. 

The reason behind this nocturnal behavior is that they do not have good vision and use specific facial hair to observe the situation by whiskering.

In addition, they are unable to see objects clearly at night, so they sense the environment by their whiskers. 

On the other hand, squirrels have a sharp vision which aids them to see and understand the situation clearly in a day.

They do not have good night vision, so they do not come out of their burrows in the nighttime to prevent themselves. 

Gestation period

Rats become sexually mature in less time and develop into adult males in only 8 to 18 weeks from birth.

They mate all around the year except in extreme cold months because they love to stay indoors during this season.

They go into hibernation conditions in the winter season to avoid the harmful effect of extreme weather. Their females carry the baby for about 20 to 25 days which is a much shorter time as compared to others.

While the gestation period of squirrels is 28 to 45 days, according to their different species. Their babies develop into complete adults and can mate after 46 to 50 weeks of their birth.

Life span

Their lifespan depends upon the quality of their lifestyle and diet. They eat plenty of healthy food when kept in a house or boundary, so their lifespan is much longer than those in the wild. 

Squirrels live for about 4 to 22 years, which is a much larger period than rats because they usually live for about 1 to 5 years, according to the species. 

Extent of damage

They also differ in the extent and site of the damage in the house. Rats usually live indoors, like in pantries, to get food and cause a lot of damage. They also live in wall spaces and cupboards to hide them and start to bite them. 

While squirrels cause damage to your garden due to their food storing ability. They dig up the area of their choice in your garden and keep the food for later use.

They again open up the holes to take out that buried food to feed them and their young ones.

They also attack bird feeders, which destroy the beauty of your garden. 

Methods of communication

They use several methods of communication that differs in both of these groups.

They make specific noises when they are happy, sick, or hungry. Rats use sounds that are inaudible to human beings but audible to their other community.

You can identify the sound of a rat as it produces a chattering sound at night. But it is essential to notice that it may be a painful situation if you hear its unusual hissing sound.

While squirrels use hearable voices to communicate with one another and for some other purposes.

They also make loud warning sounds to warn their predators if they sense them in their surroundings. These low-intensity vibrating sounds feel like emerging out directly from the nose. 

What makes squirrels and rats similar?

Although both squirrels and rats have many differences, they also have some similarities, which make them loosely related to one another.

Taxonomic order

Both are rodents as they belong to the same taxonomic order Rodentia. Females of both groups have mammary glands to nourish their babies, so both are mammals.

They have fur on their body which keeps them warm, especially in the winter season. Moreover, their reproduction method is similar because both deliver their babies through a live birth process. 

Extent of intelligence

They are intelligent creatures using their intelligence in many purposive methods. Squirrels have a powerful memory, which enables them to keep a record of anything for a longer time.

They use this memory to solve several problems and remember these techniques for about two years. Similarly, rats can survive the worst situations, so researchers use them in their experiments. 

Grabbing capabilities

They have strong grabbing and grasping capabilities for several purposes. They have sharp teeth to grab the food and to prevent them from predators’ attacks. 

These teeth keep on growing to help them in chewing any food item. Their sharp jaws are also strong, which aids in fixing the teeth in their position. 

Peaceful nature

They create a peaceful environment with one another because they have different lifestyles and dietary habits. However, they do not interact much because of varying activity times but ignore one another if this encounter happens. 

Rats can eat everything, even the garbage but do not attack the squirrels to snatch their food. Squirrels can only attack to eat them when they find no other food source for a long period, but this happens in rare cases.

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