Discover the 10 Most Rat Infested Cities in the United States

Long Island New York
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Written by Taiwo Victor

Updated: July 3, 2023

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With a bad reputation as dirty and deadly creatures, rats are the rodents everyone loves to hate. They’re everywhere and we can’t seem to get rid of them no matter how hard we try. Part of the reason they’re a problem is their exponential breeding abilities. A single female rat can produce about 6 to 12 babies at once. According to experts, a breeding pair of rats can produce 15,000 offspring in one year! So it’s no surprise how these rodents spread and take over a neighborhood very quickly. Unfortunately, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention reports that rats are implicated as carriers of over 35 different diseases, ranging from typhus to the bubonic plague. 

Living in a rat-infested city is an absolute nightmare for the average person. This is why Orkin, a renowned pest control company in the United States releases its yearly list of “Top rattiest cities” based on the number of new rodent treatments performed over the last year, including both residential and commercial treatments. 

In this article, we bring to you the 10 most rat-infested cities in the United States, according to the latest September 2020 to September 2021 ranking by Orkin, and why these cities have made it to the top spots.

Most Rat Infested Cities in the United States

10. Cleveland, Ohio 

The accumulation of garbage and improper waste disposal are leading causes of rat infestation in Cleveland.


Cleveland in Ohio State broke into the top 10 for the first time in the latest ranking by Orkin due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because restaurants closed down throughout the city, these rodents were forced to search everywhere else for food. The accumulation of garbage and improper waste disposal are leading causes of rat infestation in the city. Like most big cities, the dense human population in Cleveland also contributes to the increase in rat population. 

9. Denver, Colorado 

Chatfield Reservoir

The ninth most rat-infested city in the U.S. is Denver.


Denver ranks as the #9 most rat-infested city in the United States. Rodents have been a problem in this city for as long as anyone can remember. In Detroit, rats are especially common in areas that are adjacent to open spaces and construction sites because they create openings for rodents to come into homes. Human waste and trash accumulation are also major contributors to the problem. In fact, it was reported that Lincoln Memorial Park was closed down in 2020 due to what the city called a “major rat infestation.”

8. Detroit, Michigan 

Belle Isle Aquarium

Detroit ranks eight as the most rat-infested city in the U.S.


The latest Orkin ranking placed Detroit as the 8th most rat-infested city in the United States. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an increase in the mice and rats population in the city due to the closure of restaurants. The absence of food waste to feed on made most rats in Detroit start scouring new areas and exhibit unusual behaviors. Sadly, the rodent problem in the state keeps getting worse because of the abundance of open garbage everywhere. 

7. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

Dog Park Series - Philadelphia Header

The rat population is ever-increasing in Philadelphia.

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Philadelphia is the seventh most rat-infested city in the U.S, according to the latest ranking by Orkin. The rat population in this city is ever-increasing. Residents make several complaints of rats running rampant in their neighborhoods and they are hard to control. Unsanitary conditions throughout the city are the major causes of this infestation, as well as the closure of restaurants during the pandemic that forced many rodents to scavenge for new food sources.

6. Baltimore, Maryland 

The sixth most rat-infested city in the U.S. is Baltimore.

©ESB Professional/

Baltimore moved two spots up to No. 6 from the last ranking when it was No. 8. The brown rat, also called the Norway rat, is the most common of all the rats in the city, known for causing diseases and destroying properties. Theo Anthony, a local filmmaker, was inspired by the famous rats in Baltimore to produce the documentary Rat Film. Several attempts have been made to get rid of these rats, but their numbers keep increasing. Experts in Baltimore have linked this rat infestation in the city to illegal waste dumping and trash collection, as well as dilapidated housing. 

5. San Francisco, California 

Diamond Heights San Franciso

The 5th most rat-infested city in the U.S. is San Francisco.

©Noel V. Baebler/

San Francisco is the 5th most rat-infested city in the U.S. and we don’t need to wonder why this city made it to our top five —the main culprit is open waste. According to a report by Reform California, the increase in the rodent population in this big city is also associated with the ban of certain rodent control methods in some parts of the city. Rats enter homes through broken underground pipes, drains, toilets, and other odd places. The demand for exterminators is so high that many exterminators have a waiting list!

4. Washington, D.C

Washington DC, US Capitol Building in a cloudy sunrise with mirror reflection

©Orhan Cam/

The 4th most rat-infested city in the United States is Washington, D.C – maintaining the same position since 2019. A dense population, together with an increasing number of bars and restaurants has made it easy for these animals to thrive in the city. There’s a huge problem of excessive production of food garbage and inadequate trash disposal. The rat infestation in Washington, D.C. continues to get worse despite serious efforts to contain this problem. 

3. New York, New York

New York City Skyline - Statue of Liberty

The third most rat-infested city in the United States is New York City.


New York City is home to over two million rats! Maintaining the 3rd spot on the list of “rattiest cities” in the United States, the brown rat is the most common rat species terrorizing this city. With the dense population of the big city of New York and a surplus of waste on every subway, street, and corner, rats are visible everywhere (even in the daylight!). New York’s long-standing problem with rats can be linked to an ever-growing number of restaurants in the city, providing plenty of options for rats to survive on leftover foods. The New York City Department of Health is implementing several pest management approaches to curb this menace. 

2. Los Angeles, California

Dog Park Series - Los Angeles

In Los Angeles, Norway rats have been a growing concern for most residents.


A growing population, overcrowding, homelessness, and improper waste disposal are all factors causing unsanitary living conditions in Los Angeles. It’s no surprise that Los Angeles has maintained its No. 2 spot for the most rat-infested cities since 2019. Ranging from low-income neighborhoods to high-brow areas of the city, you’ll hardly find a neighborhood spared from this pest dilemma. Norway rats, especially, have been a growing concern for most residents, as these rats have been linked with the spread of the typhus epidemic in the city. 

1. Chicago, Illinois 

Dog Park Series - Chicago Skyline

Maintaining the top spot for the seventh year in a row, Chicago is the most rat-infested city in the United States.

©James Kirkikis/

Chicago is widely known as the “rattiest city” or the “rat capital” in the United States. Orkin has ranked Chicago the No.1 most rat-infested city for seven years in a row! With Chicago complaints topping the combined numbers from the other top three cities, the north and northwest areas of Chicago with high-density populations report more cases of rat infestations. A larger population translates to more food sources, more buildings, and therefore more rats inhabiting the city. It was reported that the abundance of garbage and inadequate disposal of waste is the leading cause of the rat problem faced in the Windy City. 

Watch Our Video on These Rat-Infested Cities

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About the Author

For six years, I have worked as a professional writer and editor for books, blogs, and websites, with a particular focus on animals, tech, and finance. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games with friends.

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