Boston Rats Exhibiting ‘Aggressive' Behavior During Pandemic, Report Says

Boston was just named the 13th "rattiest" city, according to pest control company Orkin

Boston was named the 13th "rattiest" city, according to a pest control company, as the coronavirus pandemic causes rodents across the country to exhibit "unusual" or "aggressive" behavior.

Boston landed just outside of the top 10 out of the 50 cities across the U.S. ranked by Orkin in the "2021 Rattiest Cities List," behind Minneapolis and Seattle.

Here were the top 10 highest-ranked spots:

  1. Chicago
  2. Los Angeles
  3. New York
  4. Washington, D.C.
  5. San Francisco
  6. Baltimore
  7. Philadelphia
  8. Detroit
  9. Denver
  10. Cleveland

The pest control company said the behavioral changes in rats can be traced to pandemic-induced restaurant closures. Because the pandemic forced a number of restaurants and businesses to close, leading to less waste, Orkin said the rodents have had to find new food sources.

"Without food waste to consume, these pests were seen scavenging new areas and exhibiting unusual or aggressive behavior," Orkin said.

According to Orkin entomologist Ben Hottel, food availability for the animals will rise as people resume normal activities.

“Rodents are experts at sniffing out food and shelter, and they’re resilient in their ways to obtain both," Hottel said. "After a year of depleted resources, residential properties offer the ideal habitat for rodents, and once they’ve settled in, they’re capable of reproducing rapidly and in large quantities.”

The pest control company had the following tips for preventing rats and mice from entering the home:

How to Keep Pests Out

  • Keep food stored away in metal or glass containers
  • Clear clutter like cardboard objects through which rodents could chew and nest
  • Keep landscaping tamed as tall grass and woodpiles are ideal spots for rodents to dwell
  • Watch for rodent droppings, burrow and rub marks along baseboards and walls
  • Look for possible points of entry and seal off any cracks or holes
Census data shows Boston has the second-most rat and mouse sightings in the country behind Philadelphia.

Orkin isn't the first to point out Boston's pest predicament. Census data released over the summer showed Boston had the second highest number of rat and mouse sightings when compared with the 15 most populated metros in the U.S., behind only Philadelphia.

Orkin ranked the cities based on the number of new rodent treatments performed from Sept. 15, 2020 to Sept. 15, 2021, including both residential and commercial treatments.

The company warned that rodents are able to cause "great damage" in and around homes by gnawing through electrical wires, water pipes and gas lines. The animals can also carry pathogens that lead to food poisoning or Leptospirosis, as well as diseases like Hantavirus and Plague.

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