Slideshow: Orkin's top 50 'Rattiest Cities' rankings

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(Meredith) -- Pest eliminator Orkin has a new ranking out, and it has many around the U.S. saying, "Oh, rats!" They ranked the 'rattiest' cities in the U.S., based on the number of rodent treatments they performed in those markets.

[Click here to see the Rattiest Cities slideshow]

Here's some advice from Orkin about dealing with rats

[Check out the 50 best places to live in America]

Fall is the start of rodent season. As the weather gets colder, unwanted pests like rats and mice seek out food, water, and shelter to survive the winter. According to the National Pest Management Association, more than 20 million rodents invade homes each year.

“Rats and mice begin looking for warmer, more insulated places to get through the winter, and these too often happen to be our homes or businesses,” said John Kane, entomologist and Technical Director of Orkin’s Midwest Region. “Rodents like to chew on wood and electrical wires, increasing the fire danger behind your walls and potentially damage to your home.” Kane added it’s not hard for rodents to get into a home or business.

“Rats can squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter, while mice can fit through a hole the size of a dime,” Kane said. “Even if they can’t find an opening, they can often chew their way in.”

Rodents chew on many materials, including wood and the insulation around wires. It’s estimated approximately 25 percent of unexplained wildfires start from rodent chewing. If rodent issues go unrecognized or ignored, their chewing can damage wires in the attic, basement or even in vehicles.  Rodent burrowing can also cause cracks in a home’s foundation. “Beyond property damage, there are other important reasons to prevent, notice and eliminate rodent infestations.  They can contaminate food and transmit pathogens through urine, feces, and bites that affect health.”

To help people avoid the health and safety risks that are possible with these pests, Orkin recommends the following tips to help prevent rodents around the home:

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 and seal cracks and holes if any are found. Think, “where would YOU hide or enter if you were a rodent?” It’ll be hidden, dark, probably warm, and difficult to reach!

Install weather strips around entryways, especially under doors, to help block rodents from sneaking inside.

Store food properly by keeping it sealed tightly in rodent-proof containers like plastic bins or metal canisters. Otherwise, rodents may smell food and break into weaker containers.

Clean up crumbs and spills as soon as they happen to avoid leaving food residue or sugary substances that can attract rodents.

Cut back trees and bushes to at least three feet away from homes to avoid giving rodents a “jumping off” point to access the gutters, roof or other hidden openings.

Using the tips above, homes across the nation can be better equipped to keep rodents out. If there is ever a time when a rodent infestation is suspected, contact a local pest management expert as soon as possible.

For more information about rodent prevention, visit Orkin.com.

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