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If the thought of beady-eyed rodents nauseates you and the actual sight of one scurrying across your kitchen sends you screaming into the street, you might not want to move to Chicago.

For the third year in a row, the city was named the “rattiest” metropolis for having the most rodents by pest control company Orkin. The Chicago metro area had the most residential and commercial property rodent treatments performed by Orkin, an Atlanta-based company with both national and international locations. That’s probably no surprise to locals; a local program renting out feral cats to deal with the rat problem made headlines in 2016 for having a three-month waitlist.

The Windy City was followed by New York City, with its infamous subway-dwelling, pizza-eating rats; Los Angeles; San Francisco; and Washington, DC. Rounding out the top 10 were Philadelphia; Detroit; Baltimore; Seattle; and Dallas.

“Rodents are amazingly adaptable,” says Orkin entomologist (insect expert) Chelle Hartzer. “Cities provide them with a huge amount of food and shelter. They take advantage of that.”

And the rodent problem is about to get worse in the coming months. Shudder.

“As the temperatures start to cool off outdoors, a lot of those rodent species are going to be looking for warmer, protected areas to escape those conditions,” Hartzer says. (For example: your home.) “A fully grown house mouse can squeeze through a hole the size of a dime. A fully grown rat can squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter.”

More than 20 million rodents seek food and shelter in human homes each year, according to the National Pest Management Association, a Fairfax, VA–based industry group.

That means homeowners and renters should be vigilant. They can put food in sealable containers and trash in sealed bins to avoid attracting rodents. They can patch up any holes in their home. And they can keep trees and bushes at least 3 feet from their home to ensure rodents don’t jump off branches into the gutters or the roof, which could offer entrances to the home.

Rats are more common in cities, while mice are more likely to be in the suburbs, Hartzer says. But either species can be found just about anywhere. And folks need to get rid of them, pronto.

“Rodents can carry a lot of diseases. They can also contaminate our food supplies,” she says. “Rats like to gnaw on wires sometimes, so we’ve seen fires. They can create quite a bit of damage.”

Published in Blog

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