The 50 'Rattiest' Cities in America

Rats are a common sight in many human environments. Hung Chung Chih/Shutterstock

Regardless of where you live, you've likely seen at least one rat scurrying about. Be it through a barn in the country or away from an overstuffed trash bin on a city street, rats often set up shop alongside us humans. After all, we supply plenty of shelter and food for the rodents, so why wouldn't they follow us around?

This is especially true once autumn begins, according to Orkin, the pest control company. As the temperature drops, rats (and mice) seek places to ride out fall and winter in relative comfort and safety. This means buildings, like skyscrapers and homes, can become dens for rats. Indeed, per the National Pest Management Association, some 20 million rats invade homes every year.

"Rats and mice begin looking for warmer, more insulated places to get through the winter, and these too often happen to be our homes or businesses," said John Kane, entomologist and Technical Director of Orkin's Midwest Region.

Since fall marks the start of rodent season, Orkin releases a list of the top 50 "rattiest" cities in the U.S. based on the number of rodent treatments — residential and commercial — they perform from September of one year to September of the next.

Here are the cities that varmints favored between 2016 and 2017:

  1. Chicago
  2. New York
  3. Los Angeles
  4. San Francisco-Oakland
  5. Washington, D.C.
  6. Philadelphia
  7. Detroit
  8. Baltimore
  9. Seattle-Tacoma
  10. Dallas-Fort Worth
  11. Denver
  12. Minneapolis-St. Paul
  13. Cleveland-Akron
  14. Atlanta
  15. Boston
  16. Hartford-New Haven
  17. Portland, Oregon
  18. Miami-Ft. Lauderdale
  19. Indianapolis
  20. Houston
  21. Milwaukee
  22. Pittsburgh
  23. New Orleans
  24. Cincinnati
  25. Richmond-Petersburg
  26. Sacramento-Stockton
  27. Kansas City
  28. Charlotte
  29. Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News
  30. Buffalo
  31. Columbus, Ohio
  32. St. Louis
  33. Raleigh-Durham
  34. Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo
  35. San Diego
  36. Albany-Schenectady
  37. San Antonio
  38. Tampa-St. Petersburg
  39. Rochester, New York
  40. Nashville
  41. Champaign-Springfield-Decatur
  42. Greenville-Spartanburg
  43. Memphis
  44. Phoenix
  45. Syracuse
  46. West Palm Beach
  47. Orlando-Daytona Beach
  48. Madison
  49. Flint-Saginaw
  50. Green Bay-Appleton

Chicago has had the dubious honor of being the top city for three years running, and New York has clung to the No. 2 spot like it's a slice of pizza. New Orleans and Cincinnati saw the most gains in their rat problem compared to last year, jumping 15 and 10 spots, respectively. Some cities have gotten better however. Raleigh–Durham dropped 11 notches from where it landed on the list last year, while Albany–Schenectady and West Palm Beach both fell 10 spots from the previous year.

Perhaps in a sign that Orkin needs to step up its own game, the company's home city of Atlanta not only landed at No. 14 on the list this year, but it moved up two spots as well. It's just like that ancient Roman saying goes: Who watches the rat watchers?