These Are America's 50 Most Rat-Infested Cities

A well-read rat is still a nuisance.
A well-read rat is still a nuisance. / FalconScallagrim/iStock via Getty Images Plus

New York City, home to the subway pizza rat, is surprisingly not America’s most rodent-infested city. That dubious honor goes to Chicago, according to a new analysis.

A breakdown of the “50 Rattiest Cities” in the U.S. has been compiled by Orkin, a pest control service with locations across the country. The company tallied up the number of commercial and residential rodent treatments it carried out in each city over a period of 12 months (September 1, 2019, to August 31, 2020) and then ranked them. While the evidence is anecdotal, as it comes from just one company, it does reveal the areas where rat exterminators are in high demand.

This is the sixth year in a row that Chicago has been named the country’s rattiest city, according to Orkin. New York came in third place, just after Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. was fourth. In a pretty worrisome development, San Diego moved up a whole 13 spots to come in at No. 19.

As Orkin detailed on its site, the pandemic forced countless restaurant closures in 2020, which cut off the food sources of many rodents. This led to them scouring new areas and becoming more visible around cities and in homes as a result. And there's a reason why these pests can spread so quickly: One pregnant rat can birth up to 12 babies in a single litter, and those pups can begin reproducing at just 2 months old, according to KATU in Portland, Oregon (No. 23 on Orkin’s list).

Check out the full list of the 50 most rat-ridden cities below—and if you have musophobia (a fear of rats or mice), you may want to plot your move to one of the cities toward the bottom of the list.

  1. Chicago, Illinois
  2. Los Angeles, California
  3. New York, New York
  4. Washington, D.C.
  5. San Francisco, California
  6. Detroit, Michigan
  7. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  8. Baltimore, Maryland
  9. Denver, Colorado
  10. Minneapolis, Minnesota
  11. Cleveland, Ohio
  12. Seattle, Washington
  13. Boston, Massachusetts
  14. Atlanta, Georgia
  15. Indianapolis, Indiana
  16. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
  17. Houston, Texas
  18. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  19. San Diego, California
  20. Miami, Florida
  21. New Orleans, Louisiana
  22. Cincinnati, Ohio
  23. Portland, Oregon
  24. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  25. Norfolk, Virginia
  26. Raleigh, North Carolina
  27. Hartford, Connecticut
  28. Columbus, Ohio
  29. Grand Rapids, Michigan
  30. Kansas City, Missouri
  31. Charlotte, North Carolina
  32. Phoenix, Arizona
  33. Richmond, Virginia
  34. Nashville, Tennessee
  35. Greenville, South Carolina
  36. Sacramento, California
  37. St. Louis, Missouri
  38. Albany, New York
  39. Champaign, Illinois
  40. Green Bay, Wisconsin
  41. Tampa, Florida
  42. Flint, Michigan
  43. Buffalo, New York
  44. Syracuse, New York
  45. Knoxville, Tennessee
  46. Orlando, Florida
  47. Burlington, Vermont
  48. Albuquerque, New York
  49. Dayton, Ohio
  50. West Palm Beach, Florida

This story originally ran in 2018; it has been updated for 2021.