• Orkin has released its list of the ratiest cities in America for 2023.
  • Some famous cities like New York made the list.
  • But city number one may surprise you.

They are small, dirty and live in your city – rats are almost ubiquitous throughout the United States. In some cities it is worse than in others.

Every year is ranked by pest control company Orkin According to the number of new rat treatment centers, including residential and public ones, they were recognized as the most polluted cities in America during the year. The survey does not take into account the efforts of local authorities or other pest control companies.

For the ninth year in a row, the windy city is the champion of these cheesy kids. Orkin was so excited about this winner that they released him limited edition t-shirts titled “Top Rattiest City Chicago 2023.”

According to Orkin, here are the 10 ratiest cities this year:

  1. Chicago
  2. Angels
  3. New York
  4. Washington
  5. San Francisco
  6. Philadelphia
  7. Baltimore
  8. Denver
  9. Detroit
  10. Cleveland

From poisoned food to fumigation, rat control methods, also known as extermination, vary greatly in approach and effectiveness.

What works in the ratiest cities


Chicago topped Orkin’s list this year.


One method, which involves injecting carbon monoxide into rat holes outdoors using a machine, gained popularity after New York officials touted it as almost 100% deadly.

Washington also uses this method, although it reserves it for major infestations because the machine is difficult to lug around, Gerard Brown, manager of the rodent vector control program at DC Health, told Business Insider.

Detroit is one of many cities that uses more familiar methods such as rat poison and bait boxes. The city has seen success in recent years with its traditional approach, Georgette Johnson, press secretary for the city’s Department of Public Works, told BI in an email.

To date, Detroit has received 1,851 rat complaints this year, compared to 2,577 in 2022 and 2,894 in 2021, she added.

“We may soon be moving further down the list of ‘ratiest’ cities,” Johnson said.

The storefront of a closed building with paper-covered windows and signs warning against rat poison.

Rat poison is one of the most commonly used pest control methods. Success varies.

Maja Focht

Other cities, such as Denver, are taking a more defensive approach. When a complaint comes in about rats in the city, the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment sends someone to the scene to seal off the rat holes and figure out how to cut off the food and water supply, Amber Campbell, public information officer for DDPHE BI, said in an email.

Most local governments have similar services that send exterminators to homes and businesses to investigate rodent complaints. What they do once they get there varies, but direct contact with citizens helps educate them about waste management.

The best and only way to solve the rat problem is for people to change their behavior, said Brown, who has DC vector control. While he’s not sure where Orkin gets his numbers, he said the list increases public interest in rodents every year, which is a good opportunity to get people to listen.

What doesn’t work in cities

Rats New York

Rats swarm around a bag of garbage near a dumpster at the Baruch Houses in New York.

Robert Mecea/AP

The biggest battle cities face in the rat war is one we all have to take part in – garbage management. Most pest experts emphasize that if garbage, food and water were properly managed, there would be no rodent problem.

This can be especially difficult in waterfront cities like Cleveland, San Francisco and New York because the pests have a constant source of water.

Authorities in Los Angeles, Baltimore and D.C. said the pandemic has led to an increase in household trash from people working from home, which has led to more critters invading personal spaces.

People pass garbage bags in New York City.

People pass garbage bags in New York City.

Leonardo Munoz/VIEW Press/Getty Images

There are other, more severe factors that can cause one year more rotten than the next one.

First, construction was blamed for recent rat problems in Cleveland and Philadelphia. Construction maybe eradicate creatures from their underground burrows and send them out onto the streets and sidewalks.

Other, more bureaucratic issues, such as not having enough staff to deal with rat complaints, can make rat management difficult.

For example, the investigation conducted by newsroom of the nonprofit Block Club Chicago in partnership with the Illinois Answers Project and WGN Investigates reported that city departments were too overwhelmed to deal with the more than 50,000 rat complaints they received annually.

“We are outnumbered at this point. We are significantly outnumbered,” Janelle Iaccino, chief marketing officer of Rose Pest Control in Chicago, told Block Club.


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