It’s no secret that some of our biggest cities have a rat problem. Although some US cities topped the charts, other cities in Europe gave us a good run for our money.

While studies show that there exist over 1,500 species of rodents, the most common and destructive of them are the black rat and the white rat.

These species pose a significant health risk as they carry disease-causing pathogens which can be transferred to humans through bites or food contamination.

Below, we look at the top 25 cities in the world with the worst rat infestation.

These are the world's 25 most rat infested cities
No.CityCountry# of rats for every 100 people
16Los AngelesUSA223
14JohannesburgSouth Africa230
9San FransiscoUSA290
8Bukit Batok New TownSIngapor301
3Washington DCUSA392
2New York CityUSA400

Important: The figures in this table are just an estimation of the average number of rats in the cities based on the sightings reported. They may not necessarily reflect be the actual number of rats per 100 persons in each city.

World’s ‘rattiest’ cities

25. Chicago, Illinois, USA

Chicago has for a long time been crowned the ‘king of rats’ not just in the state of Illinois but the entire United States. While the state is trying its best to implement better pest control measures, the high rise in rat infestations is mainly attributed to the poor waste disposal in the area.

The cold of the winter months has also forced the rats to seek shelter in homes and offices where there is food and water.

24. New York City, USA

Right behind Chicago is the city that never sleeps, New York City. Due to its large population, the number of rats is also quite massive, giving the city dwellers sleepless nights.

With more than 21 million rats roaming in the sewers, streets, restaurants, abandoned and unabandoned buildings as well as parks and the subway, rat sightings across the city are estimated to have increased by more than 40% in 2021.

This is a big reason to worry and the sanitation department has a lot to do if it’s to bring this problem under control.

23. Washington D.C, USA

Being the capital of the United States, it’s only fair that the rats are fast making D.C their capital as well. In fact, 2021 was the worst year for Washington DC with the rodent complaints increasing by 26%.

According to the DC Department of Health Rodent Control Division, the gradual increase in the rat population is attributed to:

  • Rise in new constructions
  • Improper trash disposal
  • Milder winter this year, compared to others in the past decade

Among the worst-hit neighborhoods in DC include:

  • Columbia Heights, Mt. Pleasant, Pleasant Plains, Park View
  • Brookland, Brentwood, Langdon
  • Georgetown, Burleith/Hillandale
  • Mayfair, Hillbrook, Mahaning Heights
  • Douglas, Shipley Terrace
  • Shaw, Logan Circle

22. Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Despite being among the top 25 cities with the most rats, Boston is among the few cities that recorded a drop in rat infestation. Over the past year, the city recorded a 10% drop in rodent sightings which should be great news for the residents.

Some of the neighborhoods that indicated the most drops in Boston include Allston, Beacon Hill, South Boston waterfront, Fenway, and West End.

Nevertheless, a few neighborhoods like Bay Village, South Boston, Mission Hill, Roxbury, and South End recorded spikes in rodent activity.

21. Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Like Boston, Minneapolis in Minnesota is another of the few cities that recorded a reduction in their rodent infestation in 2021. However, this doesn’t mean their rodent problem is gone.

The midwestern city is striving to control the number of sewer rats that have forced a significant rise in rodent complaints over the years.

20. Detroit, Michigan, USA

Over the past year, Detroit has performed relatively well compared to previous years when it comes to rat infestations.

According to the state’s health officials and the U.S Center for Disease Control (CDC), their problem with rats stems from human carelessness i.e., bad trash storage, and poorly maintained homes.

19. Cleveland, Ohio, USA

The home of rock and roll may have given us some of the best rockstars, but it’s still home to some of the largest rat infestations in the country.

The Ohio city has attributed that rise of rodents to the Coronavirus pandemic which has forced rodents into abnormally aggressive behavior as they look for food and shelter.

18. Bukit Batok New Town, Singapore

The rat infestation in Bukit Batok, Singapore, first came to light in 2014, when a resident posted a video online of a colony of rats.

The city’s administration attributed the infestation to the feeding of stray dogs which leave food bits around MRT stations, hence spurring the colony growth.

However, exterminators state that poor waste disposal in the fast-growing urban city is also a key contributing factor.

17. San Fransisco, California, USA

San Fransisco may be famous for its earthquakes, but its rodent problems are not far behind.

According to the San Fransisco department of public health, the problem is mainly caused by trash disposal issues, the increased tunneling project, and sewer floodings during the rainy season.

16. London, Great Britain

Even with the pandemic closing down businesses, restaurants, and hotels, it’s still a great time to be a rat in the UK.

Some exterminators claim that there are at least 20 million rats roaming around empty offices and homes looking for food and shelter. While these figures may seem slightly exaggerated, they are not far off.

According to the British Pest Control Association (BPCA), there was a 51% increase in rat reportings during the first UK lockdown in 2020, and a further 71% increase during the second wave of lockdown in November.

Among the most rat-infested boroughs in London include:

  • Tower Hamlets
  • Brent
  • Camden
  • Lambeth
  • Ealing
  • Redam
  • Redling
  • Islington
  • Wandsworth

15. Atlanta, Georgia, USA

The city of Atlanta is not a new name in the list of the rattiest cities in the world.

Due to the increase in demolitions of longstanding buildings within the city and its ever-growing population, the rats have certainly found a new home.

The extent of the infestations has been so severe over the past two years that several stores and schools have been forced to shut down and some homeowners forced to evacuate.

14. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

If you’ve been watching the news, you’ve probably seen several headlines about how rats are frustrating residents in Philadelphia. That’s just how bad the situation is.

Between 2020 – 2021 alone, the state has witnessed a massive surge in the number of rats with many residents calling for the city council to intervene quickly.

In a recent expose, Philadelphia residents can be quoted saying that they spot at least 40 – 60 rats every night when they’re just crossing the street.

13. Seattle, Washington D.C, USA

Just like DC, Seattle is another breeding ground for rats if the situation isn’t controlled. Most pest controllers attribute the gradual increase to the massive hyper constructions happening in the city.

Additionally, the rising number of people moving to Seattle has made the city more attractive to rodents.

12. Johannesburg, South Africa

As you would guess, South Africa’s largest city is also infested with hundreds of thousands of rats running through their streets.

The problem is said to have caused the most damage in the informal settlements and the overcrowded buildings within Johannesburg.

In an attempt to eradicate these rodents, the government has set aside 2.5 million rands to aid in this cause.

11. Hamelin, Germany

You’ve probably heard of the legend of Pied Piper of Hamelin who charmed away all the rats of the town, ending their infestation in 1284. Well, the town needs a new charmer around this time.

The city is grappling with a new rat infestation with the most recent attack being that of the rats gnawing away the power cable to one of the popular fountains in the city.

10. Los Angeles, California, USA

The city of Angels isn’t quite as angelic as the name suggests. After ranking second in a study conducted by the Pest Control Service Orkin’s, it’s evident that the city rats are also looking for their shot to fame.

LA has been topping the rattiest list since 2019, and the situation has been so bad that one local school actually had to be closed because of an infestation.

9. Denver, Colorado, USA

Denver isn’t usually one of the first names you’d think of when talking of rat infestations in the country. However, in recent times, there has been a spike in rodent complaints especially for residents living close to open spaces and construction times.

One of the worst infestations in the city forced the closure of the Lincoln Memorial Park for several weeks as the city tried to exterminate these stubborn rodents.

8. Birmingham, Great Britain

London may be the lord of rats in the UK, but Birmingham isn’t far behind. The city has over the past decade been reporting an increase in the number of rat distress calls, meaning the third-largest city in the UK may soon take the top spot as the ‘rattiest.’

This surge in rat infestation is mainly attributed to the budget constraints and cuts in the pest control department. Additionally, the lockdown over the past few years has also played a key role in attracting more rats to residential areas.

7. Miami, Florida, USA

When it comes to rats in Florida, nothing comes close to the infestations in Miami. Due to the influx in the population of the city, the number of rats nearly doubled causing havoc for many home and business owners.

Moreover, the aftermath of Hurricane Irma around the city of Miami left a lot of debris around which have been huge magnets for the rodents.

It’s also worth noting that rats in Miami also tend to be relatively larger in size than the average rodents since they’re exotic breeds that came about in the ’90s.

6. Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Despite coming into the limelight in 2020, Baltimore has proved to have one of the worst rat problems in the country.

The situation escalated so quickly that even Donald Trump, while in office, in 2019, tweeted that some neighborhoods in Baltimore are a ‘disgusting, rat and rodent mess.’

There are however several measures that Baltimore County is working on to help eradicate these rodents. Among the most recent programs includes the rat control program dubbed the ‘Rat Attack.’

5. Houston, Texas, USA

Houston, Texas, is no stranger to rat problems. The Norway rat, in particular, has been wreaking havoc in homes for decades.

During this pandemic period, many homeowners have reported an increasing number of rats, with the numbers increasing as winter set in.

Pest controllers all over Texas have been on the record indicating that they’re experiencing an all-time high in the infestations. They attribute this rise to the increased flooding in the area caused by Hurricane Harvey.

4. Paris, France

Paris, the city of love, is nearly on everyone’s bucket list for many of its romantic sights. But what most people don’t get to see or hear is the city’s massive rat epidemic.

With over 4 million rats running through a city with a population of 2 million, there are at least two rats for every Parisian. So far, nobody knows why the rats have resurfaced above ground instead of remaining underground or in sewers.

This situation has caused a lot of discomfort among residents and business owners, forcing the government to spend nearly $1.5 million every year in the war against rats.

But for a country that’s fighting to retain its position as the leading tourist destination in the world, this is a fight they must win.

3. Guangzhou, China

Following the flooding of a lake near Guangzhou, more than 2 billion rats were displaced and forced to surface around China.

This surge in rat population has meant more meat for the ‘rat-eating’ community with a kilo of rat meat going for around 136 yuan ($22).

2. Toronto, Canada

For the second year in a row, Toronto has retained its top spot as the rattiest city in Canada, based on a study by Orkin Canada.

The increase in rat sightings in 2021 is mainly attributed to the closure of restaurants and hotels forcing the rodents to look for food in residential areas.

Some experts actually rate this infestation to be far worse than what was seen during the garbage strike 10 years ago!

1. Deshnoke India - Karni Mata temple

From a population of 1.38 billion, India is known for many strange things. In fact, most people have come to terms with the fact that animal worship is practiced in some parts of India.

However, one thing you don’t hear every day is the worship of rats. Well, in a city called Deshnoke, there’s a temple, Karni Mata temple, full of revered rats and mice that some residents and devotees consider holy.

It’s estimated that there are at least 20,000 rats running around in this temple, fed by the worshippers. The rats have become a big tourist attraction site drawing thousands of visitors to the temple every year.

How to prevent rats and mice in your home

There are several ways to keep your home or office rat-free. Some of the most effective ways include:

First, kill all the existing rats in your house by either trapping or baiting.

First, kill all the existing rats in your house by either trapping or baiting.

Seal all the entry points in your house using recommended rodent-proofing materials. This includes any holes, cracks, or gaps.

Seal all the entry points in your house using recommended rodent proofing materials. This includes any holes, cracks, or gaps.

Eliminate any outdoor access by trimming all the trees, shrubs, and limbs at least 4 feet from your house.

Eliminate any outdoor access by trimming all the trees, shrubs, and limbs at least 4 feet from your house.

Clean up your yard by removing any piles of garbage or debris which could be food sources or hiding spots for the rodents.

Clean up your yard by removing any piles of garbage or debris which could be food sources or hiding spots for the rodents.

Most importantly, call the pros!

Most importantly, call the pros!
Ben McInerney
Author: Ben McInerney - Ben is a qualified arborist with 15 plus years of industry experience in Arboriculture. He ran a successful tree service before turning to writing and publishing. Ben is dedicated to providing users with the most accurate up-to-date information on everything trees.