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Most Rat-Infested Cities: 4 Florida Towns On The 2020 List

Patch logo Patch 11/5/2020 Deb Belt
a rodent standing on a dirt road: The Miami and Tampa metro areas are among the ones with the most rodent calls, according to the Orkin pest control company. But the problem did improve this year. © Shutterstock The Miami and Tampa metro areas are among the ones with the most rodent calls, according to the Orkin pest control company. But the problem did improve this year.

FLORIDA — Miami's rodent problem improved slightly in the past year and it shows in the city's ranking among America's "Rattiest Cities," the annual report from pest control company Orkin. Miami comes in at No. 20 on the company's 2019 rankings released, down one slot from the year before.

This is the sixth year that Atlanta-based Orkin has compiled the rankings, which are based on the number of rodent treatments the company performed from Sept. 15, 2018 to Aug. 31, 2020. It includes both residential and commercial treatments.

But Miami is not the only Florida city with a critter problem. Orkin said that Tampa is No. 41 on the list, down one place from a year earlier. Orlando is ranked No. 46, down three slots from a year ago; and West Palm Beach rounds out the list at No. 50, up three places in the past year.

The visibility of rodents went up during the coronavirus pandemic as the closure of restaurants sent rodents to new areas to look for food, the Atlanta-based pest control company said in its release of the rankings last week.

Orkin did not provide specific year-over-year numbers, but the increase in rodent visibility has been tied to the pandemic, said Ben Hottel, Orkin’s technical services manager.

“Pandemic-driven restaurant closures forced rodents to find new food sources, thus increasing their visibility throughout the country,” Hottel said in a statement to Patch. “Without restaurant waste to dine on, they started scavenging new areas, often into residential communities that were still producing food waste."

The top five “rattiest cities” — Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco — remained ranked the same since the same study the company published in 2019.

Detroit, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Denver and Minneapolis rounded out the top 10. Chicago has held the top rank every year since Orkin began the study in 2015.

Hottel said rodents are “experts” at sniffing out food and shelter, “and they’re resilient in their ways to obtain both.”

As the weather turns cold, rodents seek shelter in warm areas with easy access to food and water. The National Pest Management Association estimates that 24 percent of homeowners report mice infestations.

"Unfortunately, residential properties offer the ideal habitat for rodents because of access to food and water sources, potential entry points and hiding places," said Chelle Hartzer, an Orkin entomologist. "A rat can squeeze through an opening as small as a quarter, while a mouse can wedge its way into a hole smaller than a dime."

Rats and mice will chew through electrical wires, gas lines and support beams in buildings. It's estimated 25 percent of unexplained fires start from rodent chewing.

The Environmental Protection Agency recommends the following tips to help prevent rats and mice from getting into the home:

  • Inspect both inside and outside the home for rodent droppings, burrows and rub marks along baseboards and walls.
  • Look for possible entry points outside the home, seal all cracks larger than 1/4 of an inch and install weather strips at the bottom of exterior doors.
  • Trim overgrown branches, plants and bushes to avoid giving rodents "jumping off" point.
  • Keep your home clean, inside and out. Clean up crumbs and spills as soon as they happen to avoid leaving food residue or sugary substances that can attract rodents. Store all food (including pet food) in tightly-sealed containers like plastic bins, and never leave food or dishes sitting out overnight.
  • Remove potential rodent nesting sites from your property, such as leaf piles and deep mulch.
  • Keep kitchen garbage in containers with tight-fitting lids.
  • Turn compost piles to cover newly added food scraps.
  • Stop feeding outdoor birds while you are controlling an infestation

Orkin has shared these five tips on how best to keep rats and mice out of the home.

  • Do not leave out food. Small crumbs and garbage are popular food sources, as are dry goods such as grains and cereals. These should be kept in sealed metal or glass containers to prevent contamination.
  • Avoid cluttered spaces. Cardboard objects prove attractive to rodents, which tend to chew them up for use in nests. Take advantage of your extra time at home to clean and organize crowded spaces around the house.
  • Do not let the landscaping run wild. Tall grass with adequate harborages, such as wood piles next to the house, can be ideal habitats for rodents. Tree branches in contact with homes can also offer rodents easy access to the upper levels of your home where they may find a way into the attic.
  • Inspect both inside and outside your home for rodent droppings, burrows and rub marks along baseboards and walls. The more quickly rodents are detected, the better.

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