Mouse Tail Cactus vs Rat Tail Cactus: A Guide to Identifying

The rat tail cactus, also known as the mouse tail cactus, is a type of cactus that is native to Mexico. It gets its name from its long, thin, and rat-like tail. The mouse tail cactus is a member of the family Cactaceae and the genus Coryphantha.

The rat tail cactus is a small plant that typically grows to be about 12 inches tall. It has green stems with red spines. The flowers of the rat tail cactus are white and bloom in the springtime.

The rat tail cactus is not to be confused with the similarly named mouse cactus (Coryphantha robbinsorum), which is also native to Mexico.

What are Mouse Tail and Rat Tail Cactus?

Mouse Tail Cactus vs Rat Tail Cactus

There are two main types of mouse tail cactus: the Mexican and the Peruvian. The Mexican variety is the most common, and it is distinguished by its small, roundish pads and thick, fibrous roots. 

The Peruvian mouse tail cactus is larger and more elongated, with thinner roots. Both types of cacti are covered in tiny spines, which give them their “hairy” appearance.

Mouse tail cactus (also known as rat tail cactus) is a type of trailing succulent that gets its name from its long, thin stems that resemble the tails of mice or rats. 

These plants are native to Mexico and Peru, and they belong to the family Cactaceae. Mouse tail cacti are not true cacti, as they lack the characteristic spiny leaves found on most other members of this plant family.

Mouse tail cactus plants are easy to grow and care for, making them popular houseplants. These plants can tolerate a wide range of light conditions, from full sun to partial shade. 

They prefer well-draining soil and should be allowed to dry out completely between waterings. When grown indoors, mouse tail cacti will typically bloom in late winter or early spring.

Differences between the two

There are a few key differences between the mouse tail cactus and the rat tail cactus. The most notable difference is in the shape of their stems. 

Mouse Tail CactusRat Tail Cactus
The mouse tail cactus has much thinner, more delicate stems that curl and twist like a mouse’s tail.The rat tail cactus, on the other hand, has much thicker, sturdier stems that hang down like a rat’s tail.
The mouse tail cactus has small, white flowers that bloom in the springtime.The rat tail cactus has large, bright pink flowers that bloom in the summertime.
The mouse tail cactus thrives in dry, desert climates with lots of sun.The rat tail cactus does best in humid climates with partial shade.

Growing Conditions for Both Species

The rat tail cactus and mouse tail cactus are both native to Mexico and can be found in a variety of habitats there. 

They are both relatively easy to grow, although the mouse tail cactus is a bit more tolerant of less than ideal conditions. 

Both species prefer a well-drained soil and bright, indirect light. Water regularly during the growing season, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings. 

Reduce watering during the winter months. These cacti are not frost-tolerant and should be protected from temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Care Instructions for Both Species

There are a few key things to remember when caring for either species of cactus. 

Always use gloves when handling the cactus, as the spines can be sharp. 

Make sure to plant the cactus in well-draining soil, as both species are susceptible to root rot. Water the cactus regularly, but be sure not to oversaturate the soil.

Pros & Cons of Each Species

When it comes to choosing a cactus for your home, you may be wondering what the difference is between a mouse tail cactus and a rat tail cactus. 

Both of these species are native to Mexico and have long, thin tails that give them their names. But there are some key differences that you should take into account before making your decision.

Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of each species:

Mouse Tail Cactus (Epithelantha micromeris)

Pros: The Mouse Tail Cactus is a slow-growing plant, so it doesn’t require much maintenance. It is also relatively easy to care for and can tolerate some neglect. This cactus is also known for its ability to produce offsets, or baby plants, which can be propagated to create new plants.

Cons: The main downside of the Mouse Tail Cactus is that it is very slow-growing. So if you’re looking for a plant that will quickly fill up your space, this may not be the best choice. Additionally, this cactus does not tolerate cold temperatures well and may suffer damage if exposed to frost or freezing temperatures.

Rat Tail Cactus (Aporocactus flagelliformis)

Pros: The Rat Tail Cactus is a fast-growing plant, so it will quickly fill up your space. It is also relatively easy to care for and can tolerate some neglect.


The mouse tail and rat tail cacti are two distinct species that have some similarities in growth habits and appearance. 

While they both feature cylindrical stems, the mouse tail has shorter spines while the rat tail has longer ones. 

Their care needs differ slightly with a higher light requirement for mouse tails compared to rat tails. 

All in all, if you’re looking for an interesting addition to your home or garden then either of these unique cacti could make an excellent choice.

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