List of Top 50 Rat Infested Places Doesn’t Include Iowa
A disturbing headline ranking the Top 50 most rat-infested U.S. cities jumped out at me while scrolling through a recent Facebook feed. But, honestly, I think it's an Iowa success story, and here's why...
The Orkin pest control company conducts an annual survey based on the number of rodent treatments it performs, with the latest available figures collected between September 2020 and September 2021. This was during the peak of the COVID Pandemic when many restaurants were closed, forcing the vermin to seek new food sources, which may have increased rodent sightings.
Perhaps it's partly due to the relatively small urban areas. Still, it is with great relief that no Iowa city made the top 50.
Certainly, Iowans encounter their fair share of wildlife and pests from an outsized deer population, the occasional house mouse, and more minor pests like ants and boxelder bugs, but nothing quite like that facing some of America's largest and more esteemed cities and urban metro areas.
Having lived in some of the nation's most densely populated urban neighborhoods, I can attest to witnessing and confirming the notion of pest infestations.
In Washington, DC, which ranks #4 in the Orkin survey, I regularly witnessed countless rats crawling all over one another. No, I'm not referencing the politicians on Capitol Hill. When you first move to DC, you may imagine it as a well-run city representing the best of America. Disappointingly and disgustingly, I regularly saw the rats brazenly overtake a popular neighborhood school playground at night. This type of thing was happening all over the city! Sure they'd disappear by daybreak, but it was enough for me to wanna flee that city.
In Albuquerque, which ranks at #49 on the list, I witnessed and did some work addressing a messy homeless situation and was surrounded by plenty of violent crime. Still, I can honestly say that I never saw a rat during my time in that town. However, a spunky skunk liked to wander the neighborhood, making his presence known if it encountered a dog or two. Beyond that, I can see how Albuquerque barely cracked the Top 50.
In Seattle, which ranks #11, my housemates and I had an issue with one pesky rat who thought he could move in without paying rent. Making matters worse, he thought he could eat our food. This sneaky freeloader wasn't my best roommate ever, but come to think of it, he may not have been my worse either.
In New York City, which ranks #3 on the survey, it's estimated that some 2 million rats call the Big Apple home. You can see the rats hopping around the tracks in the subway stations, not to mention the time walking down Fifth Avenue where I saw an oversized rat staring down a mean 'old cat at the entrance of a packed restaurant. I imagined the rat failed to make a reservation.
In San Francisco, which ranks #5 on the Orkin list, I can honestly say I never had an issue or saw too many of the giant vermin. However, I did not doubt the City had its share of rats with trash, suspect restaurants, and unhealthy encampments. In addition, the famous Dolores Park in the Mission District became notorious for being infested with rats after massive weekend gatherings, making the techie playground a feeding ground for vermin.
I have never lived in Chicago, the #1 most rat-infested city on the list, and it's for a good reason. While I have had many memorable times in the Windy City, it was not my first choice of place to live. Primarily because my brother, who lived for several years there, told me of the time he had to battle a rat in his kitchen early one morning. No love was lost when he grabbed and swung a tennis racket so fiercley that he could've won Wimbledon.
All this to say that it's a relief to know that although life in a small city has its own set of challenges, thankfully, living with rats isn't one of them.