Chicago goes by many names, such as the Windy City and Chi-Town, but being called the “rattiest” city is one known all too well by locals. The Second City, once again, has taken first place for the rattiest city in America.
Orkin, a pest control company based out of Atlanta, has ranked Chicago the rattiest city for the sixth consecutive year, with Los Angeles and New York City (NYC) coming in second and third place.
The rankings of 50 U.S. cities are based on new rodent treatments that took place between Sept. 1, 2019 and Aug. 31, 2020. With many restaurants closing their doors due to COVID-19, there’s been an increase in the presence of rodents, according to Orkin’s press release.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also taken notice of the increase in the abundance of rodents throughout the pandemic.
“Community-wide closures have led to a decrease in food available to rodents, especially in dense commercial areas,” according to the CDC’s page on rodent control and COVID-19.
Recently, some rodents have even displayed more “unusual or aggressive behavior,” as reported by Orkin. There’s also been footage of what appears to be hordes of rats scavenging and roaming the streets of other U.S. cities, such as New Orleans and New York City.
As temperatures drop in the coming months, there will only be an increase in rodents, as they’ll be in search of food and shelter, according to Orkin. Rodents can carry deadly diseases, such as leptospirosis and plague, and also ruin wires and pipes.
A few easy ways to fight off rodents include placing traps, closing holes throughout homes and storing food properly. Other more extreme methods include extermination services.
The good news is, in recent years, Chicago has taken initiative to try and address the city’s rat problem. For instance, back in 2016, former Mayor Rahm Emanuel created a “Rodent Task Force,” along with 10 more crews to address the issue.
The number of rodent baiting/rat complaint requests in Chicago nearly tripled from Jan. 2020 to July 2020 — going from just 2,672 in January to 7,015 in July, according to the city of Chicago’s data portal. As of Nov. 14, the city reported 1,849 rodent baiting/rat complaint requests for the month. For reference, rodent baiting refers to a variety of methods used by the city to fight rodent infestations. The use of rodenticides and garbage bins with tightly fitted lids, provided by the Department of Streets and Sanitation (DSS), can prevent this.
The Tree House Humane Society (7225 N. Western Ave.), located about two and a half miles from Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus (LSC), offers a more natural and eco-friendly method of rodent control through their Cats at Work Program. Feral cats who have been in dangerous situations or unable to join their colonies are placed in areas where they can assist in managing the rodent population.
Tree House states regular tactics, such as traps and positions, used against rodents “are ineffective short-term solutions.” Additionally, poisons can also have a negative effect on both the environment and humans.
Rodent complaints per 1,000 people in Chicago dipped significantly between 2017 and 2018 but have since skyrocketed, according to real estate listing website RentHop. Additionally, the amount of monthly rodent complaints from January to August 2020 has already surpassed 2019’s numbers. To put Chicago’s rat problem into perspective, over a four year period (2014 to 2018), data from RentHop shows that New York City’s number of rodent complaints came nowhere near.