Pest Issues

Australian Marsupials and Rodents That Look Like Rats

By Bradda /

Rats. No matter if you find the creatures utterly disgusting or not, seeing one running around your home is never a pleasant experience. With that being said, did you know that the chance of that rat-looking rodent taking a walk in your kitchen not being a rat is pretty big? Yup – there are plenty of marsupials in Australia and other rodents that you can easily confuse for the creature.

In this article, we are going to list the most common Australian marsupials that look like rats, their visual and behavioural characteristics, and also other critters that you can confuse the rodent with.

So, if you are someone:

  • who has seen a rodent in their kitchen, bathroom, or basement but isn’t 100% sure if it’s a rat;
  • wants to know what to do in case of a rodent infestation;
  • is just curious about the different Australian marsupials.

Keep on reading!

Table of contents:

Australian marsupials and rodents that look like rats

You won’t believe how much some Australian marsupials and rodents can look like your typical rat. Still, if you take a closer look, you’ll definitely see the differences – not only in terms of appearance but also in behaviour. Besides just understanding what you are potentially dealing with, figuring out if you have a rat in your property or another type of rodent-like animal is genuinely important – some small Australian marsupials are protected.


If you’ve seen an antechinus in your home and mistaken it for a rat, we don’t blame you – this crutter really does resemble one. However, they are many differences, if you know what to look for:

By Ecopix /
  • Antechinuses are quite small in size – their nose to tail length is between 80 and 250 mm;
  • In terms of weight, you won’t find an adult antechinus bigger than 170 g;
  • The marsupial has can have grey, brown, black, or golden back fur and a light underbelly;
  • When it comes to visual characteristics, this type of animal has a long, pointed head and large, thin and crinkly ears;
  • An antechinus’s droppings are small, contain insects, and are crumbly;
  • The critter is mostly nocturnal and likes to nest on ground floors.

Many people confuse this type of small marsupial with a house mouse. However, as you can see, there is a difference between an antechinus and a mouse. Also – antechinuses are native species and are protected, which means that they can’t be subjected to pest control.

Common dunnart

While common dunnarts share many visual characteristics with rats, there are parts of their bodies that are very distinguishable. Here is more about the rat-like marsupial:

By Chris Watson /
  • The length of an adult dunnart is about 250 mm from snout to tail;
  • Fully-grown dunnarts can weigh up to 40 g;
  • This type of marsupial has light brown to grey fur and a lighter belly;
  • Common dunnarts have large, round ears, and a thin tail almost the same length as their body;
  • Dunnarts produce droppings that are up to 15 mm long;
  • These critters are nocturnal and live in nests made from dried grass and leaves, located in hollow logs and rotting stumps.

The common dunnart is a native small-rat like marsupial. This specific type is not considered endangered, however, the fat-tailed dunnart is protected and should not be treated as a pest.

Long-nosed potoroo

Known as very old members of the kangaroo family, long-nosed potoroos share a lot in common with rats in terms of looks. However, there are many visual indicators that can help you tell them apart. Below you’ll find the main ones:

By Francesco_Ricciardi /
  • Unlike other marsupials, long-nosed potoroos are fairly large – their body length can reach up to 360 mm;
  • This animal can weigh up to 1 kg – yup, definitely not the smallest critter out there;
  • Long-nosed potoroos have greyish-brown fur on their backs and a light grey underside;
  • Their droppings’ size varies according to their diet. They are usually dark and oval (10 mm long);
  • Potoroos are nocturnal creatures that like to rest during the day in nests made of leaves, located in coastal heaths and eucalypt forests.

Long-nosed potoroos are native and considered vulnerable. This means that pest control is not an option.

House mouse

Many people confuse house mice with young rats due to similar visual traits. Needless to say, there are many dissimilarities between the two types of animals. Here is what you need to know about the house mouse:

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  • The length of an adult house mouse is between 60 mm – 100 mm;
  • House mice weigh only 10 g to 25 g – they are that tiny;
  • This type of animal has a brownish-grey back and a pale yellow belly;
  • These rodents have small heads, bulging eyes, large round ears, and veeery long tails, compared to their bodies;
  • Their droppings are quite small – only 5-6 mm, and resemble rice grains in shape;
  • House mice are nocturnal creatures. They can be found nesting in the more secluded parts of a building.

House mice originate from India. It is well-known fact that these small critters can inflict a lot of damage to a property and spread diseases. If you find signs of the vermin in your home, get it inspected by a pest control technician ASAP.

Black rat

Now that we’ve covered all of the common Australian marsupials and rodents that look like rats, it’s time to talk about the rat themselves.

  • Black rats’ size varies from 160 mm to 200 mm in length;
  • An adult black rat weighs between 75 and 230 g;
  • As their name suggests, these rats are very dark in colour – charcoal grey to black;
  • This type of rat has large, thin ears and a scaly tail, which is longer than its entire body;
  • Similar to a house mouse’s, the black rat’s droppings are rice-shaped but are a lot bigger – about 10 mm long;
  • This rodent is nocturnal but can be seen running around during the day. Black rats like to inhabit roofs, cavity walls, trees, and burrows around farms.

Black rats are not native to Australia – they come from India and Southeast Asia, and are considered a pest. The animal can be very dangerous both to your health and property, so if you spot one in your home, make sure to act fast.

Brown rat

Due to its colouring, the brown rat can be confused with some small Australian marsupials. Here is what to watch out for if suspect that you have one living in your property:

By IanRedding /
  • The body length of this type of rat is around 400 mm;
  • The brown rat is a fairly large species – it can weigh up to 500 g;
  • This rat species is generally brown or dark grey and has lighter grey or brown belly;
  • When it comes to visual characteristics, the animal has a round head, long whiskers, and shorter tail;
  • Due to its size, brown rats produce big, brown droppings – up to 20 mm in length;
  • Brown rats are nocturnal and like to live in the ground – in sewage systems and home foundations. They also are known to inhabit garden bushes.

Brown rats aren’t native to Australia – their homeland is China. This type of rodent is considered a dangerous pest, which can spread nasty diseases to humans and inflict serious property damage.

Bush rat

Last on our list is the bush rat. As its name can already tell you, this furry “friend” has an interesting home choice. Continue reading to learn how to distinguish the critter from other rodents and marsupials:

By Belle Ciezak /
  • Bush rats have a body length of 110 mm to 205 mm;
  • The rodent can weigh between 65 g and 225 g;
  • This sort of animal can have a grey, grey-brown, or reddish back and grey or creamy underside;
  • The animal has a round head and ears. Its tail can be as long as its body – up to 195 mm;
  • Bush rats’ droppings have a torpedo shape and are fairly large – 17 mm long;
  • These rats are nocturnal. Typically, you won’t find a bush rat in the city – they like to live in forests, making nests under logs and rocks.

Bush rats are native to Australia and, interestingly enough, are not considered pests.

What to do in case of a pest infestation

So, if you’ve discovered that you are indeed dealing with a rat infestation, and now you are wondering how to get rid of the invaders, we’ve got your answer:

The best thing that you can do in a situation like this one is to hire a professional exterminator to remove the rodent for you. We, at Fantastic Services, offer effective pest control treatments that are performed by highly experienced and trained technicians. The service is easy to schedule, budget-friendly, and will save you the nightmare of trying to clear your property from the pest yourself.

Depending on the size and severity of the infestation, we can perform a one-time treatment or organise you multiple ones – whatever the case, we’ll do everything possible to rid your home or business from the nasty vermin in a discreet manner.

Learn more about the service and how to book it by visiting our website!


  • Some small Australian marsupials are protected and are not subject to pest control. Learning how to tell them apart from rats can save you from potential legal issues;
  • Bush rats are actually native to Australia and aren’t considered dangerous pests;
  • If you aren’t 100% sure if you have a rat in your property, it’s always better to get a professional to check your property for sure signs of an infestation.

Have you spotted rats on your property?

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1 year ago

My cat brought in a mouse/ rat last night. I knew it wasn’t, so I quickly caught it and let it go.

Traudl Tan
Traudl Tan
1 year ago

this article urgently needs advice on what to do with a native mouse-like marsupial in the house as I am having an entire family of them in my house right now – email me please if you have suggestions, I need some!

The Fantastic Team
The Fantastic Team
1 year ago
Reply to  Traudl Tan

Hi, sorry for the late response. What we suggest is you contact a local wildlife rescue or conservation organization for their advice. Generally, these marsupials are shy and avoid human contact. They might just be passing through your property. Do you still have this issue?

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