The deep cold temperatures the Chicago area has been under for the last several weeks is apparently sending more and more rats into homes to seek warmth.
Several area pest-control businesses say they’ve seen a spike this year in calls for rat removal -- because rodents, like people, don’t care for the bitter cold.
"The ground is frozen hard. They can’t make their burrows on the outside," said Carl Easter, owner of Logan Square Pest Control. "They want to come inside."
Easter, who has been in business for 25 years, said he’s seen about a 50 percent increase in calls so far this year compared to the same time span last year. He said he's removed a bunch out of hangars at O'Hare International Airport.
Neighborhoods on the city's north and northwest sides seem to have most of the rat calls. Lakeview residents reported more than 2,000 rat complaints from last January until today. Logan Square, Lincoln Park, West Ridge and the West Ridge neighborhood round out the top five.
Typically, the city doesn’t deal with rats that have scurried inside or under homes, said Molly Poppe, a spokeswoman for the Department of Streets and Sanitation. City rat catchers focus on those congregating outside, and Poppe said they’ve seen a big drop in calls to 311 -- about 60 percent -- so far this year compared to the same period last year.
"Our main focus is baiting rats before they’re in the houses," she said.
Last year's mild winter was blamed for a spike in calls about rats scurrying about for scraps.