Special Report

This Is the American City With the Most Rats: A Ranking of 30 Cities

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New York City produces more trash than any other city on earth – about 33 million tons a year. And along with the trash comes an animal that has adapted to live off of refuse: the rat. There are an estimated two million rats in New York City, and that number has grown about 800% since the mid-20th century. (These were America’s dirtiest cities in 2022.)

The rat population has not only risen, but spread out geographically. In 1974, rats lived in about 10% of the city — mainly in marginalized neighborhoods with poorly maintained buildings and infrequent trash pickups. Now an estimated 90% of New York City is infested with rats.

These rodents are a problem in many densely populated areas. To compile a list of the 30 U.S. cities with the most rats, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the 2022 report by Orkin, a pest control company. The ranking is based on the number of new rodent treatments performed in each city from Sept. 1, 2021, to Aug. 31, 2022, and it includes both residential and commercial treatments. Population information comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2022 American Community Survey one-year estimates.

Although New York is known for its rats, another city has topped Orkin’s Rattiest Cities list for eight years running: Chicago. Like New York, Chicago has areas with older buildings that are full of structural problems like crevices that rats can easily crawl through. A rat’s skull is the widest part of its body; so if its head can fit into a hole, it can easily squeeze the rest of its girth through.

Other cities high on the list include Los Angeles, which fell a spot to no. 3, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. Hartford, Connecticut made it into the top 20 for the first time this year, and Miami rose three spots to claim no. 20. (Although rats are known to carry dangerous pathogens, they are far from being one of the world’s deadliest animals.)

Click here to see the American city with the most rats

To compile a list of the 30 U.S. cities with the most rats, 24/7 Tempo reviewed the 2022 report by Orkin, a pest control company. The ranking is based on the number of new rodent treatments performed in each city from Sept. 1, 2021, to Aug. 31, 2022, and it includes both residential and commercial treatments. Population information comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2022 American Community Survey one-year estimates.

30. St. Louis, Missouri
> Rank in 2021: 30
> Population: 286,578

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29. Nashville, Tennessee
> Rank in 2021: 36 (+7)
> Population: 683,622

28. Norfolk, Virginia
> Rank in 2021: 27 (-1)
> Population: 232,995

27. Kansas City, Missouri
> Rank in 2021: 25 (-2)
> Population: 509,297

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26. Richmond, Virginia
> Rank in 2021: 28 (+2)
> Population: 229,395

25. Columbus, Ohio
> Rank in 2021: 26 (+1)
> Population: 907,971

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24. Portland, Oregon
> Rank in 2021: 24
> Population: 635,067

23. Dallas, Texas
> Rank in 2021: 20 (-3)
> Population: 1,299,544

22. Houston, Texas
> Rank in 2021: 18 (-4)
> Population: 2,302,878

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21. Milwaukee, Wisconsin
> Rank in 2021: 22 (+1)
> Population: 563,305

20. Miami, Florida
> Rank in 2021: 20
> Population: 449,514

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19. Hartford, Connecticut
> Rank in 2021: 21 (+2)
> Population: 120,686

18. San Diego, California
> Rank in 2021: 17 (-1)
> Population: 1,381,162

17. Cincinnati, Ohio
> Rank in 2021: 19 (+2)
> Population: 309,513

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16. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
> Rank in 2021: 16
> Population: 302,898

15. Indianapolis, Indiana
> Rank in 2021: 14 (-1)
> Population: 880,621

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14. Atlanta, Georgia
> Rank in 2021: 15 (+1)
> Population: 499,127

13. Boston, Massachusetts
> Rank in 2021: 13
> Population: 650,706

12. Minneapolis, Minnesota
> Rank in 2021: 12
> Population: 425,096

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11. Seattle, Washington
> Rank in 2021: 11
> Population: 749,256

10. Denver, Colorado
> Rank in 2021: 9 (-1)
> Population: 713,252

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9. Detroit, Michigan
> Rank in 2021: 8 (-1)
> Population: 620,376

8. Cleveland, Ohio
> Rank in 2021: 10 (+2)
> Population: 361,607

7. Baltimore, Maryland
> Rank in 2021: 6 (-1)
> Population: 569,931

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6. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
> Rank in 2021: 7 (+1)
> Population: 1,567,258

5. San Francisco, California
> Rank in 2021: 5
> Population: 971,233

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4. Washington, DC
> Rank in 2021: 4
> Population: 671,803

3. Los Angeles, California
> Rank in 2021: 2 (-1)
> Population: 3,822,238

2. New York, New York
> Rank in 2021: 3 (+1)
> Population: 8,335,897

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1. Chicago, Illinois
> Rank in 2021: 1
> Population: 2,665,039

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