Rats have very large hind feet relative to the size of their body. Mice will have little hind feet in proportion with their little bodies.
Mice ears are bigger than rat ears in proportion to their bodies.
Rat tails are usually hairless and scaly. Mouse tails have fur on them.
A few mice are common in all homes, especially during the fall and winter. Thankfully, mice are easier to trap than rats because their curious nature will want to check out anything new in their environment, including traps. The CDC has very useful tips for trapping mice at cdc.gov/rodents/prevent_infestations/trap_up.html.
If the infestation becomes severe, consult a Pest Control Professional.
There have been no known cases of rats or mice transmitting rabies to a human, cat or dog. These smaller rodents have not been found to be carriers of rabies.
It can be tricky to tell if a small hole in your yard is a rat burrow or simply a spot where a chipmunk or squirrel has buried an acorn. To tell if something is currently nesting within a hole, place a piece of crumbled paper inside or lightly cover the hole with some dirt or leaves. If a rat is currently nesting in the burrow hole, it will kick the debris out of the way when it comes out at night. If the paper or dirt remains in place for a few days, it is likely no rats are nesting within.
Rats do not hibernate, but their reproduction rates slow down over winter. They may try to enter your home or other structures when cold weather settles in, so make sure to seal up any possible points of entry. Rats are very resourceful and can survive winters even if their nests remain outdoors in their burrows. Don’t give them an easy meal, and keep trash and other food sources secure year round.