Where DC ranks for rats (and what COVID has forced rats to do)

Orkin’s annual list of the nation’s Rattiest Cities is out. D.C. is still in the Top 5. (Courtesy Orkin)

District residents know the city has a rat problem, and by one measure, it ranks as one of the five worst cities for the unwanted rodents.

Pest control company Orkin’s annual list of the nation’s Rattiest Cities ranks Washington, D.C., number 4 this year, unchanged from last year.

Orkin’s list is compiled based on the number of new residential and commercial rodent treatments performed from Sept. 1, 2019, to Aug. 31, 2020.

For the sixth consecutive year, Chicago tops the list for rats, followed by Los Angeles and New York, also unchanged from last year’s rankings. San Francisco rounds out the top five cities for rats.

Baltimore broke into the top 10 for the first time this year, ranked eighth, up from number 12 last year.

You can blame COVID-19 for the increased visibility of rats.

Orkin says the pandemic-driven closure of restaurants this spring forced rodents to find new food sources, and without food waste to consume, rats have been seen scavenging new areas and exhibiting unusual or aggressive behavior this year.

The presence of rodents became so relevant this year that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued Rodent Control guidance on ways to keep rats and mice out of homes and businesses.

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

Orkin has tips for controlling rodents at residences and businesses online.

The Top 20 U.S. cities for rats, based on rodent treatments performed by Orkin:

  1. Chicago
  2. Los Angeles
  3. New York
  4. Washington, D.C.
  5. San Francisco
  6. Detroit
  7. Philadelphia
  8. Baltimore
  9. Denver
  10. Minneapolis
  11. Cleveland
  12. Seattle
  13. Boston
  14. Atlanta
  15. Indianapolis
  16. Dallas-Fort Worth
  17. Houston
  18. Pittsburgh
  19. San Diego
  20. Miami

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up