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Chicago Listed as Rattiest City for 9th Straight Year

Chicagoans made more than 50,000 complaints regarding rats in 2022.

October 25, 2023

According to a recent press release, Chicago has continued its nine-year run landing yet again at the top of pest-control company Orkin’s Top 50 Rattiest Cities List for 2023.

Los Angeles and New York  swapped positions this year, with Los Angeles moving up into second place and New York dropping down to third place. Houston  jumped up 10 spots to take 20th place this year, while Greensboro, North Carolina, moved up 17 spots to land in 50th place.

Orkin ranked metro regions by the number of new rodent treatments the company performed from September1, 2022, to August 31, 2023. This ranking includes both residential and commercial pest control treatments. Cities on the list are based on the number of new rodent services by Orkin showcasing the demand and also indicates the efforts that residents and businesses of the top cities have taken to abate rats.

According to an article by Block Club Chicago, Chicago’s rat problems are reflected in the more than 50,000 complaints the city received from its citizens about rats in 2022. While the city issues tickets to property owners to help combat the problem, very few fines are actually paid. The city has issued 117,000 rat-related tickets since 2019 totaling US$153 million, but more than $126 million had yet to be received.

As the article mentions, Chicago struggles with rodent abatement in part because of the high rate of reproduction of the city’s only species, the brown rat, also known as the Norway rat. The female brown rat can give birth to more than 50 offspring a year, and given the right conditions, two rats can beget several thousand rats over the span of just one year.

“We’re outnumbered at this point. We’re way outnumbered,” Janelle Iaccino, marketing director for Rose Pest Control, told Block Club Chicago. “It doesn’t give us much hope for coming down in the ranks for rattiest city.”

But while Chicago might lead the list, it’s not alone. According to Orkin, each fall, rodents invade an estimated 21 million homes throughout the United States. They typically enter structures between October and February looking for food, water, and shelter from the cold.

Along with their ability to spread disease, rodents can cause severe structural damage with their strong jaws and burrowing skills. They have oversized front teeth for gnawing and can chew through a variety of building materials, including electrical wires, water pipes, and gas lines.

“Rodents multiply swiftly, and when an infestation is left unattended, they can cause extensive damage,” said Ben Hottel, an Orkin entomologist. “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.”

To help prevent a rodent infestation, Orkin suggests looking out for the following signs:

  • Droppings: Rodent droppings are often left behind in places where food is stored, such as kitchen cabinets or pantries, under sinks, inside chewed cardboard boxes, along baseboards, and on top of wall beams.
  • Gnaw marks: Rodents are known to bite through walls, wood, and wires. The damage to wiring within walls can increase the risk for a fire.
  • Nests: Rodents prefer to nest in dark, secluded areas where there is little chance of disturbance. Be on the lookout for shredded paper products, cotton, packing materials, and other fabrics, as rodents like to build nests out of these materials.
  • Rub marks: Rats tend to leave dark grease or dirt marks along walls and floorboards as they follow a trail throughout the home between their nest and food.
  • Strange noises: Scurrying in the walls could mean a rodent family is present.

To check out all 50 cities and see if your town made Orkin’s rattiest city list, click here.

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