Humans aren't the only ones changing habits over the last year. Rats are running wild too, just in different places. 4 cities in New York, 3 in Upstate are among the rattiest in the country.

The closure of restaurants amid the pandemic forced rats to find new places to feast. As residents returned to their homes after the COVID-19 outbreak, so did rodents. "Without food waste to consume, these pests were seen scavenging new areas and exhibiting unusual or aggressive behavior," according to Orkin.

Where are all the aggressive rats scurrying to? For the 7th year in a row, most of the rodents are hanging out in Chicago. But since rat activity increases when it's cold, it's no surprise New York makes the list several times each year. What may be a surprise is the huge increase in Albany.

New York City is the third rattiest city in the country. It's gotten so bad, the number of rodent complaints jumped 80% in March 2021, higher than pre-pandemic levels. Albany, New York jumped up 7 spots for the list of rattiest cities to land at #31. Buffalo remains steading at #41 and Syracuse falls two to #46.

“Rodents are experts at sniffing out food and shelter, and they’re resilient in their ways to obtain both," says Ben Hottel, an Orkin entomologist. "After a year of depleted resources, residential properties offer the ideal habitat for rodents, and once they’ve settled in, they’re capable of reproducing rapidly and in large quantities.”

There are three types of common rats in the U.S - the house mouse, the Norway rat, and the roof rat. The first step to controlling an infestation is to identify which one is invading your home.

House Mouse: Nest in any area they can find, especially if it is close to their food source.
Norway Rat: Burrow underground and can get in through foundations and openings as small as an inch. Watch out for scraps of shredded paper or cloth – this may be a sign that Norway rats are nesting in your house.
Roof Rat: Found up high and are great climbers. They nest in trees or rafters of homes.

Orkin offers tips to get rid of rats and keep them away.

  • Inspect both inside and outside the home for rodent droppings, burrows, and rub marks along baseboards and walls. The more quickly rodents are detected, the better.
  • Look for possible entry points outside the home, seal all cracks larger than 1/4 of an inch and install weather strips at the bottom of exterior doors.
  • Trim overgrown branches, plants, and bushes to avoid giving them a “jumping off” point.
  • Keep your home clean, inside and out. Clean up crumbs and spills as soon as they happen to avoid leaving food residue or sugary substances that can attract rodents. Store all food (including pet food) in tightly sealed containers like plastic bins, and never leave food or dishes sitting out overnight.

See all 50 rattiest cities at Orkin.com.

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