Chicago Rodents Exhibiting ‘Unusual' and ‘Aggressive' Behavior During Pandemic, Report Says

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While Chicago was named the "rattiest" city in the U.S. for the seventh year in a row, Orkin said rodents have been exhibiting "unusual" or "aggressive" behavior in cities throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Because the pandemic forced a number of restaurants and businesses to close, leading to less waste, Orkin said the rodents have had to find new food sources.

"Without food waste to consume, these pests were seen scavenging new areas and exhibiting unusual or aggressive behavior," Orkin said.

According to Orkin entomologist Ben Hottel, food availability for the animals will rise as people resume normal activities.

“Rodents are experts at sniffing out food and shelter, and they’re resilient in their ways to obtain both," Hottel said. "After a year of depleted resources, residential properties offer the ideal habitat for rodents, and once they’ve settled in, they’re capable of reproducing rapidly and in large quantities.”

Of the 50 cities across the U.S. ranked by Orkin in the "2021 Rattiest Cities List," the top five locations remained the same as last year.

Here were the top 10 highest-ranked spots:

  1. Chicago
  2. Los Angeles
  3. New York
  4. Washington, D.C.
  5. San Francisco
  6. Baltimore
  7. Philadelphia
  8. Detroit
  9. Denver
  10. Cleveland

Orkin ranked the cities based on the number of new rodent treatments performed from Sept. 15, 2020 to Sept. 15, 2021, including both residential and commercial treatments, according to a release.

Orkin warned that rodents are able to cause "great damage" in and around homes by gnawing through electrical wires, water pipes and gas lines. The animals can also carry pathogens that lead to food poisoning or Leptospirosis, as well as diseases like Hantavirus and Plague.

Here are Orkin's recommendations for preventing rates and mice in the home:

  • Keep food stored away in metal or glass containers
  • Clear clutter like cardboard objects through which rodents could chew and nest
  • Keep landscaping tamed as tall grass and woodpiles are ideal spots for rodents to dwell
  • Watch for rodent droppings, burrow and rub marks along baseboards and walls
  • Look for possible points of entry and seal off any cracks or holes
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