Wrigley Field, deep dish pizza, the Magnificent Mile – Chicago is famous for many things. One thing that the Windy City may not be as well known for is their latest title as the top “rat capital” in the nation.

How Chicago Residents Can Help Prevent Rat Problems

Though studies differ, according to a study done by RentHop, Chicago tops the list of cities with the largest number of rodent complaints. RentHop determined this by using 311 complaint data. Tourists need not worry, though. Neighborhoods in Downtown Chicago, such as The Loop, Gold Coast, and River North, have fewer reported complaints.

For city residents, though, there is some cause for concern. Rats can be a threat to your property, health and sense of security. They can chew through electrical wires (which can be a fire hazard), eat drywall and tear insulation. And, they can do more than cause damage to your home. Rats can leave behind urine or droppings which can carry pathogens that may cause disease.

With female rats typically having seven to 10 litters per year, and with six to 10 babies per litter, it doesn’t take long for a few home-dwelling rats to turn into a larger infestation. Learn how three simple steps – sanitizing, repairing and reporting – can help combat these unwelcome intruders.

1. Repairing

In large cities, rodents can cause a lot of damage to older, inner-city buildings and utilities in poor repair. New housing developments may experience rat infestations, but problems are more noticeable in neighborhoods that are more than ten years old. Rats can fit their bodies through a crack as small as half an inch, so having holes in interior and exterior walls and flooring sealed can limit their access to your home. A rat can fit through a hole the size of a quarter and a mouse can fit through the hole the size of a dime. They can also climb into your home, so request that tree branches are trimmed away from your roof and utility lines and have any roof damage repaired. To help keep rats out of sewer pipes, keep drains covered with screens or metal grates.

2. Sanitizing

One way to help keep rats away is to eliminate their food sources. Consider how food is stored outside of your home, too. Discarded food should be kept in heavy duty and sealed trash cans and pet food in sealed containers. Don’t forget that rats are also thirsty, so eliminate unnecessary outdoor water sources.

3. Reporting

Recognizing the signs of a rat infestation, and then reporting them, can help prevent you from dealing with greater damage down the road. If you see any of the following, you likely have a rodent problem:

  • Rat droppings around food packages, in drawers and cupboards, and under the sink
  • Evidence of gnawing on food packaging or other materials
  • Rat tracks (footprints or tail marks)
  • Rat nest materials such as shredded paper, furniture stuffing or other soft material
  • Scurrying sounds or squeaking in walls
  • Burrows

As soon as you notice any of these, or an actual rat, it’s time to notify the professionals. A Terminix® professional can identify intruding rodents, determine how they’re getting in and the most effective way to get them out of your home, and then customize a solution to help keep them from coming back.