Chicago won the dubious title of the US "rat capital" after the RentHop apartment search service found that more than 50,000 rat-related complaints were filed to city authorities in 2017. The company says the sum represents a whopping 55 percent increase since 2014.
"The abundance of garbage and buildings in The Windy City makes it a great location for these rats to seek shelter and food for survival," the company said in a press release. "The presence of these furry critters poses a threat to city dwellers due to the fact that they are capable of spreading diseases and cause allergic reactions to humans and animals."
"Most of the neighborhoods with a higher concentration of rat complaints coincide with the neighborhoods with a higher concentration of dog poop," the company says.
Neighborhoods in downtown Chicago, such as The Loop, Gold Coast and River North, had far fewer complaints. Those are also districts heavily visited by tourists. The neighborhoods with the fewest rat complaints are Printers Row, Riverdale and Oakland.
Chicago beat the three other cities in which RentHop operates — New York; Washington, DC; and Boston — for rat trouble.
The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation told the Chicago Tribune the agency received 42,670 requests for rodent abatement from residents in 2017.
The agency noted that high number of complaints does not necessarily mean an accordingly high number of rodents.
"[The figures] do show that Chicagoans care about the health and safety of their communities," Streets and Sanitation Spokeswoman Marjani Williams said in an interview, urging residents to report rodents to 311.
The agency says it is conducting preventive baiting and has also adopted a new method of putting dry ice into rodent burrows to suffocate them with carbon dioxide.