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Rat vs. Mouse: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Rats are typically larger, have coarser fur, and longer tails, while mice are smaller, with finer fur and shorter tails; both are rodents but differ in size and physical traits.
Rat vs. Mouse

Key Differences

Rats are generally larger and bulkier than mice. The common rat (Rattus norvegicus) can grow much larger than the typical house mouse (Mus musculus). Rats have a heavier and more robust body, while mice are smaller and more delicately built.
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The fur of a rat is coarser, and their tails are longer and thicker compared to a mouse's, which has finer fur and a thinner, shorter tail. Rats often have a more blunt snout, whereas mice possess a more pointed nose.
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Rats are known for their intelligence and can be more cautious than mice. Mice are curious creatures and tend to explore new things more than rats. In terms of social behavior, rats can exhibit more complex social structures.
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Rats are more adaptable to various environments and have a more diverse diet. Mice, on the other hand, tend to have a more specific habitat preference and diet. Rats are also known to be more opportunistic feeders.
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Generally, rats have a longer lifespan and larger size at birth compared to mice. The reproductive cycle of rats is also different from mice, with some species of rats having longer gestation periods.
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Comparison Chart

Size

Larger, heavier body
Smaller, lighter body
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Fur and Tail

Coarser fur, longer and thicker tail
Finer fur, shorter and thinner tail
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Snout Shape

Blunter snout
More pointed nose
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Behavior

More cautious, intelligent
More curious, less cautious
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Habitat Adaptability

Highly adaptable to various environments
More specific habitat preferences
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Rat and Mouse Definitions

Rat

Someone regarded as a traitor or informer.
He was labeled a rat for betraying his team.
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Mouse

A timid or shy person.
She's as quiet as a mouse in large gatherings.
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Rat

To secure a rope by small lines.
They ratted the ropes to ensure safety on the ship.
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Mouse

A hand-operated electronic device for controlling a cursor.
He clicked the mouse to open the file.
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Rat

Any of various long-tailed rodents resembling mice but larger, especially one of the genus Rattus.
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Mouse

A swelling under the eye caused by a blow.
The boxer had a large mouse under his right eye.
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Rat

Any of various animals similar to one of these long-tailed rodents.
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Mouse

Any of numerous small rodents of the families Muridae and Cricetidae, such as the house mouse, characteristically having a pointed snout, small rounded ears, and a long naked or almost hairless tail.
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Rat

A despicable person, especially one who betrays or informs upon associates.
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Mouse

Any of various similar or related animals, such as the jumping mouse, the vole, or the jerboa.
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Rat

A scab laborer.
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Mouse

A cowardly or timid person.
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Rat

A pad of material, typically hair, worn as part of a woman's coiffure to puff out her own hair.
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Mouse

(Informal) A discolored swelling under the eye caused by a blow; a black eye.
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Rat

(Slang) A person who frequently passes time at a particular place. Often used in combination
A rink rat.
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Mouse

Pl. mice or mous·es (mousĭz) Computers A handheld, button-activated input device that when rolled along a flat surface directs an indicator to move correspondingly about a computer screen, allowing the operator to move the indicator freely, as to select operations or manipulate text or graphics.
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Rat

To hunt for or catch rats, especially with the aid of dogs.
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Mouse

To hunt mice.
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Rat

(Slang) To reveal incriminating or embarrassing information about someone, especially to a person in authority
Ratted on his best friend to the police.
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Mouse

To search furtively for something; prowl.
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Rat

(Slang) To work as a scab laborer.
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Mouse

Any small rodent of the genus Mus.
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Rat

To puff out (the hair) with or as if with a pad of material.
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Mouse

(informal) A member of the many small rodent and marsupial species resembling such a rodent.
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Rat

(zoology) A medium-sized rodent belonging to the genus Rattus.
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Mouse

A quiet or shy person.
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Rat

(informal) Any of the numerous members of several rodent families (e.g. voles and mice) that resemble true rats in appearance, usually having a pointy snout, a long, bare tail, and body length greater than about 12 cm, or 5 inches.
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Mouse

(computing) (plural mice or, rarely, mouses) An input device that is moved over a pad or other flat surface to produce a corresponding movement of a pointer on a graphical display.
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Rat

(informal) A person who is known for betrayal; a scoundrel; a quisling.
Rat bastard
What a rat, leaving us stranded here!
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Mouse

(computing) The cursor.
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Rat

(informal) An informant or snitch.
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Mouse

(boxing) A facial hematoma or black eye.
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Rat

(informal) A scab: a worker who acts against trade union policies.
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Mouse

(nautical) A turn or lashing of spun yarn or small stuff, or a metallic clasp or fastening, uniting the point and shank of a hook to prevent its unhooking or straightening out.
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Rat

(slang) A person who routinely spends time at a particular location.
Our teenager has become a mall rat.
He loved hockey and was a devoted rink rat.
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Mouse

(obsolete) A familiar term of endearment.
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Rat

A wad of shed hair used as part of a hairstyle.
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Mouse

A match used in firing guns or blasting.
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Rat

A roll of material used to puff out the hair, which is turned over it.
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Mouse

(set theory) A small model of (a fragment of) Zermelo-Fraenkel set theory with desirable properties (depending on the context).
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Rat

Vagina.
Get your rat out.
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Mouse

(historical) A small cushion for a woman's hair.
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Rat

(regional) A scratch or a score.
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Mouse

Part of a hind leg of beef, next to the round.
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Rat

A place in the sea with rapid currents and crags where a ship is likely to be torn apart in stormy weather.
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Mouse

(intransitive) To move cautiously or furtively, in the manner of a mouse (the rodent) (frequently used in the phrasal verb to mouse around).
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Rat

(usually with “on” or “out”) To betray a person or party, especially by telling their secret to an authority or an enemy; to turn someone in.
He ratted on his coworker.
He is going to rat us out!
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Mouse

(intransitive) To hunt or catch mice (the rodents), usually of cats. 12
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Rat

To work as a scab, going against trade union policies.
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Mouse

To close the mouth of a hook by a careful binding of marline or wire.
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Rat

(of a dog, etc.) To kill rats.
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Mouse

To navigate by means of a computer mouse.
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Rat

(regional) To scratch or score.
He ratted a vertical line on his face with a pocket knife.
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Mouse

To tear, as a cat devours a mouse.
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Rat

To tear, rip, rend.
Ratted to shreds.
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Mouse

Any one of numerous species of small rodents belonging to the genus Mus and various related genera of the family Muridæ. The common house mouse (Mus musculus) is found in nearly all countries. The American white-footed mouse, or deer mouse (Peromyscus leucopus, formerly Hesperomys leucopus) sometimes lives in houses. See Dormouse, Meadow mouse, under Meadow, and Harvest mouse, under Harvest.
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Rat

Damn, drat, blast; used in oaths.
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Mouse

A knob made on a rope with spun yarn or parceling to prevent a running eye from slipping.
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Rat

One of several species of small rodents of the genus Rattus (formerly included in Mus) and allied genera, of the family Muridae, distinguished from mice primarily by being larger. They infest houses, stores, and ships, especially the Norway rat, also called brown rat, (Rattus norvegicus formerly Mus decumanus), the black rat (Rattus rattus formerly Mus rattus), and the roof rat (formerly Mus Alexandrinus, now included in Rattus rattus). These were introduced into America from the Old World. The white rat used most commonly in laboratories is primarily a strain derived from Rattus rattus.
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Mouse

A familiar term of endearment.
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Rat

A round and tapering mass of hair, or similar material, used by women to support the puffs and rolls of their natural hair.
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Mouse

A dark-colored swelling caused by a blow.
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Rat

One who deserts his party or associates; hence, in the trades, one who works for lower wages than those prescribed by a trades union.
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Mouse

A match used in firing guns or blasting.
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Rat

In English politics, to desert one's party from interested motives; to forsake one's associates for one's own advantage; in the trades, to work for less wages, or on other conditions, than those established by a trades union.
Coleridge . . . incurred the reproach of having ratted, solely by his inability to follow the friends of his early days.
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Mouse

To watch for and catch mice.
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Rat

To catch or kill rats.
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Mouse

To watch for or pursue anything in a sly manner; to pry about, on the lookout for something.
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Rat

To be an informer (against an associate); to inform (on an associate); to squeal; - used commonly in the phrase to rat on.
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Mouse

To tear, as a cat devours a mouse.
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Rat

Any of various long-tailed rodents similar to but larger than a mouse
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Mouse

Any of numerous small rodents typically resembling diminutive rats having pointed snouts and small ears on elongated bodies with slender usually hairless tails
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Rat

Someone who works (or provides workers) during a strike
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Mouse

A hand-operated electronic device that controls the coordinates of a cursor on your computer screen as you move it around on a pad; on the bottom of the mouse is a ball that rolls on the surface of the pad;
A mouse takes much more room than a trackball
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Rat

A person who is deemed to be despicable or contemptible;
Only a rotter would do that
Kill the rat
Throw the bum out
You cowardly little pukes!
The British call a contemptible person a `git'
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Mouse

To go stealthily or furtively;
..stead of sneaking around spying on the neighbor's house
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Rat

One who reveals confidential information in return for money
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Mouse

Manipulate the mouse of a computer
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Rat

A pad (usually made of hair) worn as part of a woman's coiffure
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Mouse

A small rodent with a pointed nose and small ears.
A mouse scurried across the kitchen floor.
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Rat

Desert one's party or group of friends, for example, for one's personal advantage
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Mouse

To move stealthily or quietly.
He moused around the house without making a sound.
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Rat

Employ scabs or strike breakers in
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Rat

Take the place of work of someone on strike
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Rat

Give (hair) the appearance of being fuller by using a rat
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Rat

Catch rats, especially with dogs
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Rat

Give away information about somebody;
He told on his classmate who had cheated on the exam
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Rat

A large rodent known for its adaptability.
The rat rummaged through the trash cans.
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Rat

A term used in contempt or aversion.
He's a rat for stealing my idea.
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Rat

To betray or turn informer.
He ratted on his accomplices to the police.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

Are rats and mice the same species?

No, they belong to different species; rats are generally from the genus Rattus, while mice come from the genus Mus.
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Can rats and mice interbreed?

No, they cannot interbreed due to different genetics.
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What is the typical lifespan of a rat?

Rats usually live around 2-3 years in the wild.
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Can rats and mice live together?

It's not advisable as they have different needs and may exhibit territorial behavior.
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Are rats or mice more harmful as pests?

Both can be harmful, but rats are often considered more destructive due to their size and behaviors.
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What is the typical lifespan of a mouse?

Mice typically live about 1-2 years in the wild.
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Are mice good climbers?

Yes, mice are agile climbers and can scale vertical surfaces.
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Are rats more intelligent than mice?

Rats are often considered more intelligent and can be trained more easily.
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Do rats have better memories than mice?

Rats are known to have excellent memories and problem-solving skills.
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Can mice be trained like rats?

Mice can be trained, but rats are usually more responsive to training.
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Do rats and mice have different diets?

Yes, rats are more omnivorous, while mice have a more specific diet.
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Nov 21, 2023

Can rats and mice be kept as pets?

Yes, both can be domesticated and kept as pets, with proper care and environment.
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Do rats and mice have good hearing?

Yes, both have excellent hearing and rely on it for survival.
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Are rats or mice more nocturnal?

Both are primarily nocturnal, but rats are more strictly nocturnal.
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Are mice more common in homes than rats?

Mice are more common in homes due to their smaller size and ability to enter small spaces.
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Do rats or mice have a better sense of smell?

Both have an excellent sense of smell, crucial for finding food and avoiding danger.
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Are mice more social than rats?

Rats are generally more social and have complex social hierarchies.
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Can rats swim?

Yes, rats are good swimmers and can survive in water for long periods.
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Do rats and mice spread diseases?

Both can spread diseases, but rats are more notorious for this due to their history with plagues.
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Are mice more fertile than rats?

Mice have a higher reproductive rate and can produce more offspring in a shorter time.
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Nov 21, 2023

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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Fudge is a soft, dense, and creamy confectionery made from sugar, butter, and milk or cream, while a brownie is a baked dessert, typically chocolate-based, with a dense, cake-like texture.
Slavic Facial Features vs. Germanic Facial FeaturesSlavic Facial Features vs. Germanic Facial Features
Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed
January 31, 2024
Slavic facial features often include high cheekbones and rounder faces, while Germanic facial features typically have sharper angles and stronger jawlines.
Interviewer vs. IntervieweeInterviewer vs. Interviewee
Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed
December 25, 2023
The interviewer conducts the interview, asking questions and guiding the conversation, while the interviewee is the one responding and being evaluated.
Grand Opening vs. Soft OpeningGrand Opening vs. Soft Opening
Shumaila SaeedShumaila Saeed
December 25, 2023
A Grand Opening is a highly publicized and celebratory launch of a business or venue, while a Soft Opening is a more subdued trial opening, often with limited services or a smaller audience.

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