Two brown rats

Rats have taken to the streets of Chicago, yet again. Orkin released its Top 50 Rattiest Cities List in October, and for the sixth consecutive time, the Windy City takes the top spot. New to the Top 10 this year is Baltimore, taking the eighth spot, and moving into the Top 20 is San Diego, rising 13 spots to secure the #19 ranking. 

Orkin ranked metro regions by the number of new rodent treatments performed from Sept. 1, 2019 to Aug. 31, 2020. This ranking includes both residential and commercial treatments.

In an unprecedented year, the visibility of rodents has increased, creating concern for homeowners and business owners alike. As reported in the spring, the pandemic-driven closure of restaurants forced rodents to find new food sources. Without food waste to consume, these pests were seen scavenging new areas and exhibiting unusual or aggressive behavior. The presence of rodents became so relevant that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued Rodent Control guidance on ways to keep rats and mice out of homes and businesses.  

Rodent activity will only continue increasing as these pests seek shelter in warm areas with available food and water. As the U.S. population spends more time at home this season, residents should pay extra attention to the attractants that entice rats and mice.

“Rodents are experts at sniffing out food and shelter, and they’re resilient in their ways to obtain both,” says Ben Hottel, an Orkin entomologist, in a press release from the company. “Residential properties offer the ideal habitat for rodents, and once they’ve settled in, they’re capable of reproducing rapidly and in large quantities.”

Rodents are known to cause severe structural damage with their strong jaws and burrowing skills. They have oversized front teeth for gnawing, and they have check teeth, which are adapted for chewing a variety of items, including electrical wires, water pipes and gas lines. “Unfortunately, rodents can cause great damage in and around homes,” said Hottel.

Beyond structural damage, there are multiple health issues associated with rodents, and during a time of heightened awareness around virus transmission, preventing rodents and the harmful pathogens they carry is critical. Rodents are capable of contaminating food through pathogens that can cause food poisoning or Leptospirosis. They can also spread diseases such as Hantavirus and Plague, specifically in the Western U.S., both of which while uncommon, can be fatal.

The good news is, a rat infestation is preventable. To help residents avoid the potential health and safety risks associated with rodents, Orkin recommends the following tips to help prevent rats and mice in and around the home:

- Do not leave out food.

- Avoid cluttered spaces.

- Do not let the landscaping run wild. 

- Inspect both inside and outside a facility for rodent droppings, burrows and rub marks along baseboards and walls.

- Look for possible entry points outside a facility and seal cracks and holes if any are found.

To see the entire list of cities that made Orkin's 50 Rattiest Cities list, click here.