Chicago Earns Dubious Honor, Named ‘Rat Capital’ Of United States

Chanawat PhadwichitShutterstock

The crown of the rat king, being held by the city in the United States wherein the most common complaint of rodent infestation takes precedent, is now held by the so-called “Rat Capital” of the country in Chicago, at least according to The Daily Mail.

The title and rather dubious honor comes as a result of a large survey conducted by online apartment search engine RentHop, which polled its enormous userbase on the matter amongst other aspects of rent life. Almost 60,000 complaints about rodent infestation were made to the City of Chicago in 2017, outstripping by far any other major urban center in the country.

“Comparing the number of complaints per 100,000 residents, Chicago topped the list with 1876.09 complaints per 100,000 residents.”

The Big Apple, New York City, came in at second place despite having a much larger population than Chicago with 19, 152 complaints about long-tailed undesirables. Washington D.C and Boston rounded out the top four spots for vermin problems, with 5,036 and 2,488 complaints having been lodged respectively.

Chicago seems to be experiencing a boom in rat population despite the best efforts of city staff to remove the offending creatures, with public complaints having risen a whopping 55 percent in less than five years.

“It’s part of living in a city,” one Chicago resident told The Chicago Tribune, “Even during the day, you’ll see them fly through the alley.”

According to the numbers provided by RentHop, West Ridge, Englewood, and Logan Square are the hot spots around the city that one may wish to avoid in terms of rodent complaints, particularly if deciding on a new apartment for rent or a house to let. The data provided allegedly suggests that rats are fond of areas with higher concentrations of dog feces and that these particular neighborhoods are guiltier than most of having this sort of problem.

Featured image credit: Chanawat PhadwichitShutterstock

The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation quite understandably disputes these latest figures offered up by RentHop. They claim that only 42,670 requests for rodent abatement were received throughout 2017, about 8,000 fewer requests than cited by the online service provider. The department offers an explanation for the divergence in numbers on the fact that they screen out and remove duplicate requests and not recording as active those requests where proactive measures have been taken to solve the problem.

“Rodent complaints are not an accurate indicator of the rat population in an area, however they do show that Chicagoans care about the health and safety of their communities,” Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation spokeswoman Marjani Williams said.

“[The department] encourages residents to report rodent activity to 311 so that our crews can quickly investigate and address every sighting.”

Williams went on to point out that the city employs 26 distinct crews to combat the rising tide of rats in the urban area, baiting and trapping them. She also indicated that the department is proud to respond to complaints in five days or less.


Despite their best efforts, the department may not have the resources necessary to deal with the immensely growing rodent population. Local veterinarian Dr. Dylan Frederickson noted that he treats several dogs per year in response to serious rat bites.

“I’ve never seen anything like the rat infestation that we have in Chicago,” he said, noting that rat bites “can cause acute kidney failure, which is sometimes fatal.”

“It’s relatively easy to prevent your dog from getting into a fight with a rat, it’s much more difficult to prevent them from taking a drink from a random puddle that might be contaminated.”

Those Chicagoans looking to find areas in which to dwell that might be the least susceptible to rat infestations might look towards Millenium Park, Greektown, and the Museum Campus according to the data provided by RentHop.