ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – For many homes, the fall season means a rise in unwanted houseguests. No, we’re not talking about your relatives. We’re talking about rodents, and Orkin has released their Top 50 Rattiest Cities List.

Orkin ranked metro areas by the number of new rodent treatments performed between September 1, 2022, and August 31, 2023. Even though Albuquerque made the list, we are towards the bottom at number 45. The top three spots are taken by Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York.

Orkin says every fall, mice and other rodents invade around 21 million homes in the United States. They start entering into homes between October and February looking for food, water, and shelter.

“Rodents multiply swiftly and when an infestation is left unattended, they can cause extensive damage to homes and yards,” said Ben Hottel, an entomologist with Orkin, in a statement. “Rats are capable of squeezing into spaces through holes as small as a quarter, which makes it especially important to seal cracks from the outside.”

One of the main causes of concern with rodents in the home is the potential of spreading life-threatening viruses, like the hantavirus. New Mexico has seen at least six reported cases of hantavirus in 2023. According to the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH), the rate of hantavirus cases is dependent on how many people come into contact with rodent droppings and urine carrying the virus.

Orkin outlined some ways to spot possible rodents in your home:

  • Droppings – often left behind where food is stored, like kitchen cabinets or pantries, under sinks, inside chewed cardboard boxes, along baseboards, and on top of wall beams.
  • Gnaw marks – found on walls, wood, and wires. Damage to wiring could increase the risk of a house fire.
  • Nests – found in dark, secluded areas where rodents prefer to make them. House mice tend to make nests out of shredded paper products, cotton, packing material, and other fabrics.
  • Rub marks – seen as dark grease or dirt marks along the walls and floorboards.
  • Strange noises – scurrying heard in the walls or attic. Attics are preferred by rodents as they are insulated and safe for nest building.

People can prevent an infestation by following a few simple guidelines:

  • Store away food – small crumbs nad garbage are popular food sources, as are dry goods such as grains and cereals. Use sealed metal or glass containers to store them.
  • Declutter – cardboard objects prove attractive to rodents. Take advantage of any extra time at home to clean and organize crowded spaces in your home.
  • Maintain your landscaping – tall grass with adequate harborages, such as woodpiles next to the house, can be ideal habitats for rodents. Tree branches in contact with homes can also offer rodents easy access to the upper levels of your home where they may find a way into the attic.
  • Inspect inside and outside your home – look for rodent droppings, burrows, and rub marks along baseboards and walls.
  • Look for possible entry points – seal any holes and cracks that are found around your home.

More information on keeping rodents out of your home is available on the Orkin website.