The rats are scurrying out of New York. Orkin's annual 50 Rattiest Cities has 2 less in the Empire state and three that fell down the list.

So where are all the rats hanging out? Chicago....for the 5th year in a row. But since rat activity increases when it's cold, it's no surprise New York makes the list several times each year, but fewer this year.

To no one's surprise, especially anyone who's been to the Big Apple, New York City is the third highest place with rats. On the other hand, Burlington and Rochester dropped off the list from last year, while Buffalo, Syracuse and Albany fell several spots.

#3 New York City
#32 Buffalo (-4)
#47 Albany (-15)
#41 Syracuse (-5)

“Unfortunately, residential properties offer the ideal habitat for rodents because of access to food and water sources, potential entry points and hiding places,” said Chelle Hartzer, an Orkin entomologist. “A rat can squeeze through an opening as small as a quarter, while a mouse can wedge its way into a hole smaller than a dime."

Rats cause more than damage to your home too. “Beyond structural damage, there are multiple health issues associated with rodents including food poisoning, rat-bite fever, hantavirus and even the bubonic plague. Rodents can easily spread diseases in a home or commercial site in a short period of time,” Hartzer added.

The house mouse, the Norway rat and the roof rat are the most common rats in the U.S.. 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 provides tips to help prevent rats and mice in and 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, 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.